Socialized Health Care

Definition

Health Economics

  • Although it is not a technical term in economics, 'socialized' health care seems generally to be a term used to describe a system in which a third party payer like an insurance agency (which may be private or public) covers its members (membership will usually be compulsory for people with defined characteristics like area of residence) for a specified list of procedures (usually ones deemed to be cost-effective) for a fee that is unrelated to need and that may be part of the tax structure. It is similar to managed health care both in terms of its potential for containing health care expenditures and in its promotion of evidence-based medicine, though managed health care organizations in the US are, with notable exceptions like Kaiser Permanente, generally for-profit organizations, and on a smaller scale than most systems described as 'socialized' (for example, restricted to particular employee groups or people with specific eligibilities as under Medicare or Medicaid). Alternatively, the term may refer to the public ownership of health services. The UK's National Health Service is 'socialized' on both counts. Canada's system, being mainly privately owned, is socialized only on the former count.
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