Chapter 1 An introduction to the Handbook on the Political Economy of Health Systems
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Although many would agree with the statement that “effective health care is at the heart of staying healthy and caring for those sick”, it is far more difficult for most of us to understand how important rules constraining and incentivising health care activity are for efficient health care, and more specifically to keep the costs of medicines under control, and to motivate physicians and nurses in the pursuit of their daily duties. Country-specific rules influencing the constraints and incentives of health care activity are often defined as “health care institutions”. Such rules can take the form of policies when they refer to specific interventions, or reforms when such incentives and constraints change. More generally, the system of influencing how health care is provided and financed are widely heterogenous across countries, and define what we know as “health systems”. This book will focus on studying how institutions affect the activity, outcomes, and financing of health systems as they are widely understood.