The quality of being fair or equal; equality of status in respect to some identifiable and controllable quality of importance, such as health, access to services, or exposure to risk.
The term inequity refers to differences in health that are not only unnecessary and avoidable but, in addition, are considered unfair and unjust.
Principle of being fair to all, with reference to a defined and recognized set of values.
There are two kinds of equity:
- Horizontal equity is the principle that says that those who are in identical or similar circumstances should pay similar amounts in taxes (or contributions) and should receive similar amounts in benefits
- Vertical equity is the principle that says that those who are in different circumstances with respect to a characteristic of concern for equity should, correspondingly, be treated differently, e.g., those with greater economic capacity to pay more, those with greater need should receive more.
European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. Glossary. 2009.
Equity in health implies that, ideally, everyone should have a fair opportunity to attain their full health potential and, more pragmatically, that no one should be disadvantaged from achieving this potential, i.e., everyone should have geographical and financial access to available resources in health care.
Equity is concerned with creating equal opportunities for health and with bringing health differentials down to the lowest possible level.
Inequity – as opposed to inequality – has a moral and ethical dimension, resulting from avoidable and unjust differentials in health status.