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Tuesday, 24th March 2015

The Health of Nations: A Transatlantic Trade and Investment Agenda for Better Healthcare

Source: European Centre for International Political Economy

From Executive Summary:

Today, increases in the demand for healthcare are driving European governments to look for ways to control growth in healthcare expenditures and, at the same time, improve health outcomes. Healthcare demand will most likely grow even faster in future decades as the European population continues to age – with 20% of the population predicted to be over the age of 65 by 2025 – and other demographic shifts take hold. Consideration of ways to enhance trade in healthcare goods and services is important for governments as they struggle to find resources to finance this increasing demand for healthcare.

Trade has a natural role in healthcare – and countries already trade extensively in medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, for example. Now it is time to expand the role of trade in healthcare – and there is no better way to begin that process than through the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

TTIP is an opportunity for Europe and the United States to lower the cost of providing high-quality healthcare and support better health outcomes. Trade is an integral part of healthcare, and current obstacles to trade raise the cost for healthcare systems to deliver better healthcare to patients. In the healthcare sector, costs of trade (like tariffs and regulatory divergence) cannot be passed on to consumers as they can in other sectors. Trade costs rather depress the amount and quality of healthcare that can be offered to patients.

To improve the conditions for trade in healthcare goods and services is not a veiled effort to make public healthcare systems private. Nor will TTIP or any other trade agreement have that effect. The key role of TTIP is to reduce the cost of key inputs to healthcare delivery that are already traded. In Europe and the United States, two very advanced healthcare markets, TTIP can help to spur specialisation by helping companies to access markets for new and innovative products in a faster way.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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