The study of how scarce resources are allocated among alternative uses for the care of sickness and the promotion, maintenance and improvement of health, including the study of how health care and health-related services, their costs and benefits, and health itself are distributed among individuals and groups in society.
World Health Organization. European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. Glossary. 2009.
Questions that health economics report include the following:
- How much of society's resources are devoted to health and to health services?
- What priority is given to different aspects of health and health services?
- What health services are people willing to pay for?
- What choices are made in the search of health and the improvement of health services?
- What are the results of these choices in terms of resource use and their impact on health?
- What are the direct and indirect costs?
- What is the relation between the economy as a whole and health?
- What influence do health services have on the economy as a whole?
- How far do changes in the environment and the state of natural resources affect health and what are the costs?
- How efficient and effective are health services and how are they distributed in the community?