This primer explains why macroeconomists need to be concerned with issues of health policy and elaborates the essential information that a macroeconomist should know in providing inputs to discussions on health sector policy. The primer illustrates how these issues and the range of appropriate policy options may differ depending on the state of development of an economy and the particular approach taken by a country in structuring its health system. The primer also highlights the appropriate roles for the state and market in health care financing and provision, taking account of the various sources of market failure in the health sector.
Many Asian countries (such as China, Singapore, Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, and the Philippines) will experience a significant aging of their populations during the next several decades. This paper explores how these aging Asian countries are addressing and anticipating the challenges of an aging society. It suggests that Asia's preparedness for an aging population is decidedly mixed. While growth policies have been successful, much work is still needed in many countries to establish an adequate and farsighted policy framework in the areas of pensions, health insurance, and labor market policies.
During the transition process, many existing social sector institutions and policies were significantly eroded and their underlying character changed. As a result, they often do not redistribute to the poorest, nor generally serve the role of facilitating economic change. Social sector reforms have therefore become necessary for reasons of social welfare as well as economic growth. The analysis of eleven transition countries—comprising some of the most advanced as well as some of the poorest transition economies—shows that almost all countries have started to undertake reforms; however, their individual efforts vary. Reform does not only stand for cutting back, but also requires in some cases a building up and in others a redesign of social safety nets; it needs to address insurance issues, budgetary transfer programs, the performance of the health and education sector, as well as the labor market regime and the approach to tax administration.
This primer aims to provide IMF macroeconomists with the essential information they need in situations where they must address issues concerning health sector policy and when they have significant macroeconomic implications. Such issues can also affect equity and growth and are fundamental to any strategy of poverty reduction. The primer highlights the appropriate roles for the state and market in health care financing and provision. It also suggests the situations in which macroeconomists should engage health sector specialists in policy formulation exercises. Finally, it illustrates the different health policy issues that confront countries at alternative stages of economic development and the range of appropriate policy options.
Mrs. Ritha S. Khemani, Mr. Sanjeev Gupta, Mr. Calvin A McDonald, Mr. Louis Dicks-Mireaux, and Marijn Verhoeven
As part of its mandate, the IMF seeks to create the conditions necessary for sustained high-quality growth, which encompasses a broad range of elements. These include sound macroeconomic policies, growth-enhancing structural reforms, good governance, and such social policies as cost-effective social safety nets and targeted social expenditures. This paper reviews the IMF's policy advice in two key areas of social policy: social safety nets and public spending on education and health care. It was initiated as part of the work by the World Bank and IMF to strengthen the poverty focus of adjustment programs in low-income countries, in particular within the framework of the Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs).
This paper briefly describes the factors constraining the social protection policies in the Baltics, Russia, and other countries of the former Soviet Union (BRO). The analysis considers public spending in social programs, including generalized subsidies for goods and consumer services, pensions, unemployment-related and social benefits, and education and health care. The paper then lists policies that can help mitigate the worsening living standards of the poor and the vulnerable in a fiscally sustainable manner.