Shifting services from the public health system to a private system has both benefits and drawbacks, according to a paper in the American Journal of Public Health.
According to the paper's authors, privatization of the public health system could increase access, quality and efficiency. In addition, it could improve relationships within the community and take pressure off local health departments. However, privatization also raises concerns about accountability, quality and coordination.
The paper suggests that additional discussion about privatization is needed, such as to address the following questions:
- Which public health services should always be a governmental function?
- What should be the determining factor in which services are privatized?
- Who is held accountable under a privatized health system?
- What is the role of the public in the public health system?
The authors conclude, "Privatization approaches -- with their claims to improve efficiency, access and quality -- have an undeniable appeal, but they should be subject to rigorous research and evaluation. Political or ideological justifications for these arrangements are not sufficient when the health of communities is at stake" (Gollust/Jacobson, American Journal of Public Health, October 2006). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.