Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 December 2009
Countries vary enormously in the health status of their populations—even after controlling for income and education levels. They vary in the amount of resources their health systems draw from the rest of the economy. And they vary in the extent to which their health financing mechanisms shield individuals from the risks of major health care expenditures. Governments' health policies vary as well: Some governments attempt to finance (or mandate the financing of) basic clinical services for all their populations, while others rely on out-of-pocket user fees or private voluntary insurance for much of the financing. Some focus public spending on public health and effective, targeted disease control, while others spend heavily on a few major tertiary facilities. Some governments provide the services they finance, while others use public resources to purchase services from private providers. It is the role of health policy analysis to assess whether these and other government choices affect performance in improving health, controlling costs, and spreading risk.
In this volume, John Peabody and an impressive team of coauthors assemble and interpret a broad range of material and provide a coherent overview of both current conditions and recent trends in health status, health expenditures, and health coverage in Asia—a region whose economic, social, and cultural diversity raises most of the policy issues facing health sectors in any country. The authors are careful not to be too prescriptive.