To what extent are various public health goods public or private? Why is it important for you, given your current or future professional role, to understand this distinction on how various public health goods and services are delivered?

In Canada, public health services are free to the public. These services are available for anyone who wants or needs them. The public good of health is consumed by the citizen. In the United States, the vast majority of public health services are paid for by consumers through employee group plans or by the individual. This is a private good that falls on the shoulders of citizens. Review the examples of public and private goods. Consider how you would determine which is a public or a private good.

  • Pertussis vaccine
  • Human papillomavirus vaccine
  • Information about the prevention of pregnancy geared toward those younger than age 18 years
  • Medical care for a 35-year-old woman who has been diagnosed with cancer; she has two children and is homeless
  • Electronic health record
  • Nutritional advising for parents of young children
  • End-of-life or palliative care for an elderly person with dementia
  • Mental health care for a group of former U.S. military personnel injured in battle
  • Safe labeling of pharmaceuticals
  • The Da Vinci robot (surgery medical technology)
  • In-patient treatment for heroin addiction

For this Discussion, review the media, “Health and Health Economics,”and Learning Resources. Select one item from above, and determine whether it should be a public or private good. Think about the influence of this public or private good on public consumption.