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What Are National Health Accounts?

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  • Written By: T. Briseno
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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The World Health Organization (WHO) National Health Accounts is a tool in tracking, evaluating, and reforming health care budgets and processes internationally. As a central source database, the National Health Accounts provides a means for comparing health care funding and spending at national levels so countries can assess how their own financing measures up and where it can be improved. Factors such as types of health care, insurance and funding and sources of care provide an overview of needs and financing from the private sector to the government level across the globe.

Countries can use National Health Accounts records to analyze a specific trend that may stand out in a given year or over a period of time in order to find ways to economize or reduce future spending. Data also helps in delineating problems to come, as when a nationwide pooling of numbers shows a widespread increase in a particular disease or lifestyle pattern. For example, health records and expenditures in the United States have shown an increase in diabetes diagnoses and treatment in the 20th and 21st centuries, and many countries have noted prolonged life spans and increased elder care needs. Planning for financing at the national level and down through legislation at the corporate and private levels can be helped by using comparative analysis of the National Health Accounts.

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Historical health trends and forecasting analyses are provided as a way to make health care more globally effective, both in treatment and in means of paying for care. Although each country typically compiles its own expenditure records, the National Health Accounts focuses on the consensus and comparison internationally. Often financing is an issue at the individual, national level, but many developed countries provide funding and resource allocation to less developed nations, and initiatives such as the National Health Accounts become valuable for idea generation in making monies go farther, hopefully in order to reach more people in need of care.

Improved global health is a goal of the World Health Organization and many of its partners, and systems for recording health data from international sources are aided by the United Nations, which monitors global reporting efforts through a broader or umbrella standard called the System of National Accounts. This covers not just health reporting, but other partnering activities as well. Information provided by the National Health Accounts is published on the WHO website for each participating country and in compiled reports by years covered, and it is available to the public worldwide.

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