Public preferences for the allocation of societal resources over different healthcare purposes

Sander Boxebeld*, Tom Geijsen, Charlotte Tuit, Job van Exel, Amr Makady, Laurence Maes, Michel Van Agthoven, Niek Mouter

*Corresponding author for this work

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Increasing healthcare expenditures require governments to make difficult prioritization decisions. Considering public preferences can help raise citizens’ support. Previous research has predominantly elicited preferences for the allocation of public resources towards specific treatments or patient groups and principles for resource allocation. This study contributes by examining public preferences for budget allocation over various healthcare purposes in the Netherlands.


We conducted a Participatory Value Evaluation (PVE) choice experiment in which 1408 respondents were asked to allocate a hypothetical budget over eight healthcare purposes: general practice and other easily accessible healthcare, hospital care, elderly care, disability care, mental healthcare, preventive care by encouragement, preventive care by discouragement, and new and better medicines. A default expenditure was set for each healthcare purpose, based on current expenditures. Respondents could adjust these default expenditures using sliders and were presented with the implications of their adjustments on health and well-being outcomes, the economy, and the healthcare premium. As a constraint, the maximum increase in the mandatory healthcare premium for adult citizens was €600 per year. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics and a Latent Class Cluster Analysis (LCCA).


On average, respondents preferred to increase total expenditures on all healthcare purposes, but especially on elderly care, new and better medicines, and mental healthcare. Three preference clusters were identified. The largest cluster preferred modest increases in expenditures, the second a much higher increase of expenditures, and the smallest favouring a substantial reduction of the healthcare premium by decreasing the expenditure on all healthcare purposes. The analyses also demonstrated substantial preference heterogeneity between clusters for budget allocation over different healthcare purposes.


The results of this choice experiment show that most citizens in the Netherlands support increasing healthcare expenditures. However, substantial heterogeneity was identified in preferences for healthcare purposes to prioritize. Considering these preferences may increase public support for prioritization decisions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number116536
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

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