Looking at the dollars

A key goal on the journey toward achieving Universal Health Coverage is making healthcare more affordable. Understanding optimal ways to pay for health and healthcare and to identify wastage and inefficiency is an essential step in developing and implementing new policies and programs. 

The National Health Protection Scheme in India is boldly aiming to provide financial protection to 500 million people across India (making it the biggest such program in the world). We are currently analysing the potential costs and coverage of the program in various Indian states relative to the current system and hoping to generate policy relevant outcomes that will inform how the program can be strengthened as it develops over time. 

In Australia, we are examining the economics of preventing high cost conditions in patients at high risk of non-communicable disease. This project aims to understand the factors that lead to inappropriate, high cost healthcare services and identify strategies for more appropriate, cost-effective care in a private health insurance setting.  We are also raising awareness about conditions that often get misdiagnosed. We worked with the Australian Sepsis Network to launch a national action plan to drive improvements in the treatment and recovery of patients and reduce the number of people who lose their lives each year to sepsis - a life-threatening illness that occurs when the body’s response to infection injures tissues and organs.

We are also working with eight member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to explore the economic effects of cancer. Cancer can be a major cause of poverty, a concern that particularly affects countries that lack comprehensive social health insurance systems and other types of social safety nets. We are working with a cross-section of public and private hospitals as well as cancer centres to raise awareness of the extent of the cancer problem in Southeast Asia and its breadth in terms of its financial implications for households and the communities in which cancer patients live. We aim to identify priorities for further research and create a catalyst for implementation of effective cancer control policies.