Health care is the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of disease and injury. It includes the administration of drugs and vaccines, the building and equipment of hospitals, and the employment of medical professionals. In addition, it is the provision of emotional and psychological support.
Almost every country has some form of health care, and the countries with the best overall outcomes tend to have public systems of healthcare that are more universal in scope than those of the United States. Some examples of these types of systems include Norway, the Netherlands, and Australia. However, many other countries have a more varied system of healthcare that includes both private and public components.
What makes the difference between these different systems is how they allocate resources to achieve their goals of providing health care for their populations. Different theories of resource allocation inform these decisions, and the result is that healthcare systems vary significantly.
One approach to healthcare is based on the philosophical concept of utilitarianism, in which the “right” action is that which brings about the greatest happiness for the most people. This theory guides decisions about how much healthcare to provide, how to spend that money, and what to do with excess funds.
Another approach to healthcare is based on the economic concept of efficiency, in which the “right” action is the one that maximizes the benefits per unit spent. This theory guides decisions about how much healthcare is provided, how to spend that money, and what kinds of services to provide.
A third approach to healthcare is based on the ethical concept of fairness. This theory dictates that all people should receive a minimum amount of healthcare in return for their contributions to society. However, this theory can be debated when deciding how much healthcare to provide and what constitutes that minimum amount.
The bottom line is that all of these approaches to healthcare have their pros and cons. But what’s most important is that people have access to health care that helps them live longer, healthier lives. Without it, they can suffer from serious illnesses and die earlier than they might have if they had access to adequate health care.
In a typical American city, there are 3 to 4 integrated health care systems anchored around large hospitals and extending into suburban areas. These systems serve the needs of the residents and businesses in their service area by offering a range of health care services from routine preventive exams to emergency surgery and rehabilitation. They also handle administrative tasks, such as billing patients for services and processing claims from insurance companies. This allows providers to focus on improving quality of care and patient outcomes. They are also able to reduce costs by focusing on cost-effective measures that promote high-value care and limit waste, such as bundled payments for chronic conditions. This is called value-based payment. These systems can be privately owned or publicly funded, and they may be either for-profit or nonprofit.