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Health Care and Economics Comparison


Health care and economy are two fields, which despite their apparent difference are mutually interconnected. The population health and well-being can be determined by the way the health system is financed. In that sense, the health care as a sector that is constantly financed by many resources such as funds, donations, insurances and government support, the ideology of managing the finances of the health care has started to be influenced by the market economy in order to effectively use these resources. In the light of the aforementioned interconnection, this paper examines several common terms in the context of economy and health care. The terms resources, quality, and costs will be examined in terms of their differences and similarities in the world of health care and economics.

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Identifying the similarities of the aforementioned terms is an easier matter in light of their direct reference to financial aspects. Resources, in the context of economics, refer to a set of material and non-material factors and means, which provide the functioning of a social production, uninterrupted process of a social production and the reproduction. The similarities in economics and health care can be seen in their necessity for the processes not to be stopped. The availability combined with implementation of resources is factors of success similar in both contexts, i.e. the way the resources might be used. In that sense, both in economics or health care, the availability of resources is not a guarantee of successful usage, rather than their successful implementation, where for example, the objective in any health care system “seeks the greatest improvement in well-being from available resources.” (Donaldson & Gerard, 2005, p. 74) At the same time in health care the resources does not imply natural resources, whereas in economics this type of resources acceptable. In economics investments in resources makes the labor more productive, where in health care there are problems in realizing the benefits of the investment made. (Getzen, 2007a)

In regards of costs, the general definition states it as “the cost is the economic effort (the payment of salaries, the purchase of materials, the manufacture of a product, securing funds for financing the management of the company, etc…) that must be done to achieve an operational objective” (“Costs Definition,” 2008) In terms of differences could lie in the introduction of the concept of cost-inefficient in health care, which is not accepted in economics as it represents a loss. Additionally, in health care, “medical costs depend upon the rate of growth in average health spending for all Americans, not on how much spending goes up or down in a single family.” (Getzen, 2007b) Other points of contrast could be apparent in the different between costs and expenses. For example, administrative costs such as central supply administration, data processing services, fund-raising expense, general accounting, hospital administration, medical care review, medical records, medical staff administration, medical staff services, nursing administration, patient accounting, and pharmacy administration(McKay, 2008), could be considered expenses in the context of economics.

Quality as a set of attributes can be defined as superiority either in product or service. In the context of health care quality is not an attribute of a separate factor, rather than a general aspect by which the whole system can be characterized. In that sense, economics is more concerned of a quality of the output which can be evaluated and measured, whereas in healthcare “there are problems of assessing quality, where services cannot be defined in discrete packages”. (Donaldson & Gerard, 2005, p. 43) As a point of similarity it can be seen that quality is mostly associated with price as an assessment factor. Nevertheless, it can be seen that in health care specifically, the references to cost calls for a point of controversy either in favor of the cost or the quality.


It can be seen through the paper that economics and health care are connected with other, where there are specific fields concerned in making this connection efficient. The discussed terms in a wide context are similar in forming the whole picture, however, if addressing specifics it can be seen that there are cases where some terms are not applicable to the both field, i.e. economics and health care. It can be assumed that further integration of economics and health care will lead to that the terms will be synonyms in application. The only area of concern is the threat that the similarity in contexts will expand beyond the finances of health care and contain the area of health only, as the initial implication of economics in health care was for the purpose of better management of the available resources.

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