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What's Different about Health?

What's Different about Health?

Human Repair and Car Repair in National Accounts and in National Health Accounts

(p.15) 1 What's Different about Health?
Medical Care Output and Productivity
Jack E. Triplett
University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the question: Why is health care different from any other analogous service, such as car repair? Comparing measurement issues in human repair and car repair is instructive. There is something to be learned from the way we measure the output of car repair that can be applied to the measurement of human repair and can simplify the health care measurement problem. Because output measures in the national accounts of most countries are typically produced through deflation — that is, by dividing health expenditures by a price index — medical care price index methodology has determined the concepts embodied in medical care output measures (except of course in national accounts for countries in which medical care is part of the public sector). This chapter first describes an approach, dubbed the “human repair model,” and contrasts it with approaches used in other parts of national economic accounts and national health accounts. The model is implemented on mental health care expenditures.

Keywords:   health care, price index, car repair, national economic accounts, national health accounts, mental health, output measures, health expenditures, measurement

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