Individual Rights and Duties in Health Policy
| RIVISTA INTERNAZIONALE DI SCIENZE SOCIALI - 2010 - 3
A growing body of thought in the literature and the policy debate is calling for eligibility criteria
and funding methods in healthcare to be predicated on individual responsibility. To date this approach
has had no tangible impact on public health systems: the choice adopted is to avoid discrimination
in access to health services, while instead emphasising public intervention intended to influence
behaviour. As regards forms of intervention, we observe the expansion of the standard instruments:
mandatory rules, information, education, subsidies and taxes. However, a new approach is
also emerging. This is labelled «libertarian paternalism» to indicate that it pursues an acceptable
compromise between the corrective objective and respect for the freedom of individual choice. We
argue that this road should be pursued cautiously, with prior assessment and ex-post evaluation of
the impact of intervention designed to affect individual behaviour, through an appropriate adaptation
of the traditional criteria of cost-effectiveness analysis.
Key words: Individual behaviour, individual responsibility, health promotion, libertarian paternalism,
JEL Classification: I12, I18, H51.