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Health Econ. 2000 Sep;9(6):547-59.

Regional differences in health care delivery: implications for a national resource allocation formula.

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National Primary Care R&D Centre, Centre for Health Economics, University of York, UK.


In several countries formulae for allocating resources to regions are derived using national average relationships between population characteristics and health service use. However, there may be significant regional heterogeneity in health care delivery which, has two main implications for a national resource allocation formula. First, it offers alternative ways of measuring the relative needs of different population groups. Since the primary focus of research and policy is on the difficulty of targeting resources at high-need populations, it is proposed that progressivity in the delivery of health care could be seen as a frontier problem analogous to efficiency. The effects of using the slope parameters from the most progressive region are simulated. Second, regional heterogeneity may thwart the objective of the formula of securing equitable use of resources by different population groups. An adjustment mechanism is developed to illustrate the trade-off between the levels of geographical and vertical equity achieved. A locus of equity possibilities for acute care in Scotland is derived. Traditional formulae represent a corner solution indicating extreme relative aversion to geographical inequity. Because regional variation in need dominates regional variation in progressivity in Scotland, high-need rather than progressive regions gain from the pursuit of vertical equity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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