Disease Prevention, Health Care, and Economics

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The Oxford Handbook of Health Economics, 2012
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© Oxford University Press 2011. All rights reserved. This article attempts to take on the policy issues and explores the economic analysis of prevention that can add to policy development. It discusses prevention and draws on the economic concepts of human capital and utility maximization. It provides a framework for investigating the reasons for people making the decisions and their response if their incentives or constraints alter. This approach can yield useful insights into behavior and answer various questions such as the reasons for smoking and the rise in the obesity level. Thus economic analysis can provide a basis for designing prevention strategies. This article addresses the issue of whether there is a current under-investment in prevention. For many policymakers and public health advocates, this question is about whether more prevention will save on care expenditure. Furthermore, the article turns to the special challenges in building an evidence base for prevention policy.
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