Willingness to Pay (WTP)

Willingness to pay (WTP) is the valuation of health benefits in monetary terms, often used in cost-benefit analysis. WTP reflects the maximum amount an individual is willing to spend to achieve a health benefit or avoid an adverse health outcome.

Key points about WTP include:

– Valuation Method: WTP is a method of assigning monetary value to health benefits, which can be particularly useful for comparing the costs and benefits of healthcare interventions in economic evaluations.

– Survey Techniques: WTP can be derived using survey techniques, where individuals are asked to express their monetary valuation for specific health outcomes. One commonly used method is contingent valuation, where respondents compare different hypothetical scenarios.

– Healthcare Application: While WTP is not frequently used in many healthcare systems due to patients not making direct purchasing choices, it can be valuable in specific contexts such as evaluating preferences for reduced waiting times, access to specialized care, or elective procedures typically obtained through direct payment.


– In a contingent valuation survey, individuals might be asked to state their WTP for in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment under various success probabilities. They might be presented with scenarios where the probability of a successful pregnancy varies, and asked how much they would be willing to pay for each scenario.


– Monetary Valuation: Provides a way to quantify health benefits in monetary terms, facilitating cost-benefit analysis and economic evaluation.

– Informed Decision-Making: Helps policymakers understand the value placed on different health outcomes by patients and the general public, supporting more informed resource allocation.


– Survey Reliability: The accuracy of WTP estimates can be influenced by how well the survey scenarios are understood by respondents and how realistically they reflect real-world decisions.

– Limited Application: In many healthcare systems, where patients do not directly pay for most services, WTP may not always be applicable or relevant.

Use in Cost-Benefit Analysis:

– WTP is particularly useful in cost-benefit analysis where both costs and benefits are expressed in monetary terms, enabling straightforward comparisons of different interventions.

WTP is a valuable concept in health economics for assigning monetary value to health benefits, facilitating economic evaluations and supporting informed healthcare decision-making.