Accounting and the ‘Insoluble’ Problem of Health-Care Costs

Florian Gebreiter*, Laurence Ferry

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Health service accounting reforms are frequently promoted, explained or justified with reference to ageing populations, expensive medical technologies and their purported implications for the cost of health care. Drawing on Foucault’s genealogical method, we examine the emergence of concerns regarding health expenditure in the wake of the creation of the British National Health Service in 1948, and their relationship with health service accounting practices. We argue that concerns regarding the cost of health care are historically contingent rather than inescapable consequences of demographic and technological change, and that health service accounting practices are both constitutive and reflective of such concerns. We conclude by relating our analysis to current attempts to control costs and increase efficiency in the health services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-733
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Accounting Review
Issue number4
Early online date21 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2016 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercialNoDerivatives
License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution,
and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed,
or built upon in any way.


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