Personal Budgets, Choice and Health: A Review of International Evidence from 11 OECD Countries

Erica Gadsby, Julia Segar, Pauline Allen, Katherine Checkland, Anna Coleman, Imelda McDermott, Stephen Peckham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Personal or individual budgets for purchasing health and social care are intended to offer more choice, control and flexibility to service users when compared with agency-directed care. They are becoming an increasingly common feature in high-income countries for purchasing personal care that often lies on the border line between health and social care. In England, they have recently been introduced explicitly for the purchasing of health care. There are some key motivations behind their introduction: they are expected to give individuals more choice about care they receive; to expand options for care; to improve outcomes; and to reduce expenditure. This paper draws from a review of the international evidence on personal budgets which identified: descriptive detail on personal budget schemes in 11 OECD countries to examine their key features and implementation processes; empirical evidence on the experiences of, and outcomes for, people using these schemes, and; empirical evidence regarding the impact of the schemes on the healthcare system, particularly with regards to resources. The paper examines the motivating factors behind personal budget schemes in light of this evidence. It concludes that there is little in the evidence to suggest that international governments’ expectations for personal budget programmes are well-founded. The assumptions that they improve choice, and that more choice will in turn lead to greater autonomy and then improved outcomes at lower cost, are actually far more complex and generally unsupported by evidence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-28
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Public & Private Healthcare Management and Economics
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • Cash-For-Care, Health Policy, Patient Choice, Personal Budgets, Personalisation


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