Varying Opinions on Who Deserves Collectively Financed Health Care Services: A Discrete Choice Experiment on Allocation Preferences of the General Public

Maartje J. van der Aa*, Aggie T. G. Paulus, Mickael J. C. Hiligsmann, Johannes A. M. Maarse, Silvia M. A. A. Evers

*Corresponding author for this work

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In Europe, health insurance arrangements are under reform. These arrangements redistribute collectively financed resources to ensure access to health care for all. Allocation of health services is historically based on medical needs, but use of other criteria, such as lifestyle, is debated upon. Does the general public also have preferences for conditional allocation? This depends on their opinions regarding deservingness. The aim of this study was to gain insight in those opinions, specifically by examining the perceived weight of different criteria in allocation decisions. Based on literature and expert interviews, we included 5 criteria in a discrete choice experiment: need, financial capacity, lifestyle, cooperation with treatment, and package/premium choice. A representative sample of the Dutch population was invited to participate (n = 10760). A total of 774 people accessed the questionnaire (7.2%), of whom 375 completed it (48.4%). Medical need was overall the most important criterion in determining deservingness (range beta = 1.60). Perceived deservingness decreased if claimants had higher financial capacity (1.26) and unhealthier lifestyle (1.04), if their cooperation was less optimal (1.05), or if they had opted for less insurance coverage (0.56). However, preferences vary among respondents, in relation to demographic and ideological factors.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0046958017751981
Number of pages11
JournalInquiry-The Journal of Health Care Organization Provision and Financing
Publication statusPublished - 14 Feb 2018


  • health insurance
  • resource allocation
  • public opinion
  • choice behavior
  • surveys and questionnaires
  • experimental design
  • discrete choice experiment
  • The Netherlands

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