2. What are health systems?


What are health systems?

Health systems differ between countries. Sometimes the way health services are delivered varies between regions within a country. Health systems seek to deliver high-quality health services to their population. Some health systems:

● Provide hospital services only.

Provide community and primary care.

● Are responsible for prevention of disease and promotion of health.

Most health systems have responsibility for all of these.

In virtually every health system in the world, governments play a key role. However, these are not all the same. In some cases, for instance, the government’s role is only to create the legal framework that governs the system which is provided by independent organisations. In other cases, and these are the majority in the EU, governments may fund the health system and even organise the delivery of health services.

Funding structures for health systems differ substantially. For instance, some systems are funded through taxes, others are insurance-based schemes. Co-payments by the individuals may or may not be included. While it is common to speak of public, private, and mixed systems, these descriptions may be misleadingly simple. For example, a publicly financed system (paid for by the public through taxes or social insurance such as in the UK) may in fact rely on non-public organisations (such as for-profit or not-for-profit institutions and providers funded by investors or charitable donations) to deliver services.