Interest in health accounts tracks major changes in health policies, financing mechanisms, and services. In the early 1920s, most Americans paid for health care out of pocket or received it uncompensated. The advent of insurance plans like the Blue Cross and Blue Shield changed this perception of health care financing. However, the Great Depression put enormous pressure on family budgets and out-of-pocket spending. Today, health care costs have surpassed all other expenditures combined.
As a consequence, health accounts are becoming increasingly important in the health care finance debate. They can answer direct questions about how and where health care dollars are spent. They can also provide context for specific research findings. By combining these data with survey data, health account statistics can provide valuable information on resource flows. But the data are only as good as the system that uses them. This article will discuss how health accounts can help us understand the financial structure of health care spending and the impact they have on the economy.
Health spending data
The National Health Accounts are the most widely used type of health spending data. They provide an anchor for disaggregated sub estimates that can be used to guide public policy and improve the quality of health care. Moreover, these accounts allow policymakers to focus on the difference between expenditures and the level of care. At the State level, health accounts highlight regional differences and will become increasingly important as more countries adopt health care reforms. These accounts are the best way to monitor the consequences of health care policies.