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Health care

Health care or healthcare as a general term refers to the delivery of medical services by specialist providers, such as midwives, doctors, nurses, home health aides, vaccination technicians and physician's assistants. Usually such services receive payment from the patient or from the patient's insurance company, although they may be government-financed or delivered by charities or volunteers, particularly in poorer countries.

Health care can form an enormous part of a country's economy. In 2000, health care costs paid to hospitals, doctors, diagnostic laboratories, pharmacies, medical device manufacturers etc., consumed an estimated 13 percent of the GNP of the United States.

Health care services include preventive care, vaccination, diagnosis, prescribing and administration of medicine, surgery, observation, and attendance at childbirth.

Prior to the popularisation of the holistic neologism healthcare, English-speakers referred to medicine or to the health sector and spoke of the treatment and prevention of illness and disease.

For a politico-economic discussion on the delivery of health care, see healthcare system.