Personal needs versus national needs: Public attitudes regarding health care priorities at the personal and national levels

Giora Kaplan, Orna Baron-Epel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many stakeholders have little or no confidence in the ability of the public to express their opinions on health policy issues. The claim often arises that lay people prioritize according to their own personal experiences and may lack the broad perspective necessary to understand the needs of the population at large. In order to test this claim empirically, this study compares the public's priorities regarding personal insurance to their priorities regarding allocation of national health resources. Thus, the study should shed light on the extent to which the public's priorities at the national level are a reflection of their priorities at the personal level. Methods: A telephone survey was conducted with a representative sample of the Israeli adult population aged 18 and over (n = 1,225). The public's priorities were assessed by asking interviewees to assume that they were the Minister of Health and from this point of view allocate an additional budget among various health areas. Their priorities at the personal level were assessed by asking interviewees to choose preferred items for inclusion in their personal supplementary health insurance. Results: Over half of the respondents (54%) expressed different personal and national priorities. In multivariable logistic analysis, "population group" was the only variable found to be statistically significant; Jews were 1.8 times more likely than Arabs to give a similar response to both questions. Income level was of borderline significance. Conclusions: At least half of the population was able to differentiate between their personal needs and national policy needs. We do not advocate a decision-making process based on polls or referendums. However, we believe that people should be allowed to express their priorities regarding national policy issues, and that decision-makers should consider these as one of the factors used to determine policy decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 15 May 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Kaplan and Baron-Epel; licensee BioMed Central.


  • Health insurance
  • Health policy
  • Health priorities
  • National health insurance
  • National survey
  • Public opinion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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