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J Health Econ. 1993 Dec;12(4):431-57.

Equity and equality in health and health care.

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Department of Economics and Related Studies, University of York, Heslington, UK.


This paper explores four definitions of equity in health care: equality of utilization, distribution according to need, equality of access, and equality of health. We argue that the definitions of 'need' in the literature are inadequate and propose a new definition. We also argue that, irrespective of how need and access are defined, the four definitions of equity are, in general, mutually incompatible. In contrast to previous authors, we suggest that equality of health should be the dominant principle and that equity in health care should therefore entail distributing care in such a way as to get as close as is feasible to an equal distribution of health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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