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Economics and health — how does 2015 look?

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The current discussion about copayments illustrates how hard it is to make sense of the interplay of the health and economic systems, especially when political wheels are engaged. When the copayment was proposed it was said to be necessary because the health service was unsustainable. Its purpose changed on the night of the presentation of the 2014 federal Budget, to funding medical research. Later it became a price signal, despite already obvious price signals in the form of private health insurance premiums and the Medicare levy.

Our complex and large contemporary health and economic systems interact frequently. Concerns about the cost of health care are commonplace; and likewise, fears about the way in which health is determined by the economic climate in a country are frequently expressed by public health professionals. Somewhere in the machinery connecting health and economics another set of cogs and wheels clicks in — politics.

At national and international levels the power of economics on health is also immense. At the beginning of 2015 it is wise to look at how the world economy is likely to perform, because this will determine the resources available to us for health care and influence the social environment here and abroad.

In an article titled Past and future tense in The Economist of 20 December 2014, the author explores three trends in the global economy. Looking like…