The place of law in the health-care sector and the place of health-care in the legal sector seem to be two never-ending stories. .
Public authorities, including some supreme courts, are playing an increasing role in the health-care sector, especially in regulating a growing economic sector. Medical innovation and the development of health-related economic activities force both politicians and judges to adopt a new and cautious approach of to link between law and health care.
Law aims to protect, through public health, individual patients. In that context, two decisions of the Court of Justice of the European Union on advertising of medicinal products show the increasing search for a balance between information aimed at health protection and information that has a commercial goal. In that regard, the Belgian law on advertising of aesthetic medicine came into force this summer, raising similar questions on the balance between information and advertising.
Legal action by governments is also aimed at organizing and limiting public funding of health-care provision. While the Belgian Court of Audit recently evaluated management of public health-insurance, the Belgian Supreme Court took a decision that could be interpreted as only allowing public funding of any hospital costs. Public funding of health-care provision is also a matter of balance.
Recent activity in the public health and social security sectors enforces both basic roles of public authorities when dealing with public health and health-care provision. With respect to major concerns surrounding public health, public authorities will play an ever-increasing role in regulating the development of health-care. If they keep in mind the balance between protection and responsibility, health-care will improve and so will public health.