Issues in National Health Insurance

Donabedian, Avedis
April 1976
American Journal of Public Health;Apr1976, Vol. 66 Issue 4, p345
Academic Journal
Health insurance, by reducing net price to the consumer and increasing the opportunities for revenue to the provider, has profound effects, among other things, on the volume, content and distribution of services, their prices, and the capacity of providers to produce them. The magnitude and nature of these effects depend, partly, on the design of insurance benefits and, partly, on the nature of the health care system, particularly its current and potential capacity and the methods it uses to pay providers. Those who believe that the unique aim of insurance is to protect against unpredictable expenses attempt to suppress these effects, mainly by imposing financial disincentives to utilization which, in turn, reduce protection for those who need it most. Those who wish to reform the system have a broader range of objective which include protective efficacy, cost control, quantitative adequacy, qualitative adequacy, efficiency of production, efficiency of allocation, equity, and redistribution of capacity. An analysis of the effects of insurance in the light of these objectives reveals favorable as well as unfavorable consequences. The provision of comprehensive benefits generates the necessity for a fundamental change in the organization of health services, if the advantages are to be fully realized and the disadvantages minimized.


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