This article develops a taxonomy of health care programmes, and assesses whether or not these programmes represent a viable option for addressing key health policy objectives, including efficiency, equity and sustainable financing. A broad literature review was undertaken to identify the various types of health care programmes to develop a taxonomy. Then, a targeted literature review of each type of health care programme was undertaken to collect evidence on the ability of programmes to address health policy objectives. Many health care programmes were identified and grouped into six categories: financial support, patient education, integrated care, special population, national/regional plans, and disease management. Design and implementation of these programmes varied widely within and across categories. Evidence surrounding impact of health care programmes was largely mixed, with evidence of both successful and unsuccessful initiatives. The evidence suggests that when properly implemented, health care programmes can help generate cost savings, improve patient adherence to treatment, address inequities in access to health care, and improve patient health outcomes. However, the evidence relies on a highly heterogeneous sample of studies, study populations and diseases studied; studies are often of variable quality. Further research on this subject would therefore be beneficial.