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Variability in healthcare treatment costs amongst nine EU countries – results from HealthBASKET project (Editorial)

Busse R, Schreyögg J, Smith P
Health Economics 17(S1): 1-8





Patient mobility gives rise to some fundamental information requirements, such as the nature of the basket of services offered in the different Member States, how these are defined, how often they are used for particular patients, what their costs are, what prices are paid for them, the quality with which they are delivered, and their cost-effectiveness. … However, international comparisons of service, cost and quality data are currently not routinely available for individual treatments. Up to now, healthcare cost comparisons have been usually made at an aggregate level and variations have been identified at the macro-level, e.g. in purchasing power parities (PPPs) per capita, as a percentage of GDP, distribution of expenditure per sector. Most fundamentally, analysis of international variation in the costs of individual services at the micro-level is difficult because of manifest limitations in the comparability of data. As a result, where cost data for individual treatments have become available, it has usually been unclear whether differences are due to (1) differences in the actual type of service delivered, (2) the intensity with which technologies or personnel are used per treatment episode, and (3) differences in input costs.

The HealthBASKET project was therefore funded to address both the policy and methodological challenges associated with cross-border cost variations. … The nine project partners comprised Denmark, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, and Spain. … Each of the partners … (iii) assessed variation in resource consumption (human resources, goods, capital, etc.) and actual costs of these resources for individual health services between and within countries, using a selection of 10 ‘case-vignettes’ representing need for care in both inpatient and outpatient settings.

This issue of the journal reports the results. The objectives were to:

• identify and develop a methodology for cost comparison;

• assess whether prices are a good estimate of the costs of individual services;

• explore the reasons underlying variations in the costs of individual services.


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Prof. Dr. med. Reinhard Busse, MPH FFPH
+49 30 314 28420
Sekretariat H80