health economics

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The specialized branch of economics devoted to the study of costs, benefits, resource allocation, use, inputs, outputs, and outcomes of all forms of health care. One way in which the health sector differs from other sectors of society is that the supply-demand paradigm of the marketplace is not fully applicable because at least some, perhaps most, personal health services and virtually all public health services are necessities, rather than optional expenditures. An important aspect of health economics is analysis of utility, defined as the value of a state of health in quality-of-life terms. However, health economics is inseparable from the politics of health services, and decisions about health economics are often ideologically driven, and therefore are subject to change with the changing fortunes of political parties.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.

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