Health is a value. Europeans want high-quality health systems because health is a goal worth achieving for all. But health has also an important role to play in our economy.
Health creates jobs and helps preserve them. One in 10 workers in Europe is employed in the health sector. A healthy person can find a job more easily and is more productive.
Health reduces poverty. European countries have agreed that everyone must have access to healthcare: it is a right enshrined in the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. And guaranteed access to healthcare is one of the strong links in the "social chain" that keeps people out of poverty.
Health contributes to innovation. Some of the most innovative areas of our economy deal directly with research in health: pharmaceuticals, medical devices and biotechnology.
But health costs money too. Governments devote about one-sixth of their budgets to ensuring high-quality healthcare – funding, for instance, qualified and well-trained personnel, high technology equipment and innovative medicines.
Clearly, this money must be spent well. Which is why the European Commission invests in tools to better assess the relative effectiveness of health technologies, encourages joint reflection on ways for national governments to deliver care and makes a continuous effort to promote healthy lifestyles: better nutrition, safe physical activity and no smoking. Even with access to the best healthcare systems, not getting sick is always the best option.