Summary measures of population health can take into account different outcomes of ill health, both fatal and non-fatal. Research on new measures of population health coincided with a period of significant decrease in mortality and an increase in life expectancy. This was coupled with striving to achieve better living conditions and improvements in the health status. In parallel, new theoretical concepts of mortality change were proposed. New summary measures of health are discussed in the context of the WHO general model of the health transition and theories referring to changes in health and disability of aging populations. In particular, the theory of morbidity compression, the theory of morbidity expansion, the dynamic equilibrium theory and the general notion of population ageing, are examined. The article presents a typology of summary health measures based on two groups: health expectancies and health gaps. The main measures discussed are: the disability-free life expectancy (DFLE), the health adjusted life expectancy (HALE), the disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), the healthy life-years (HeaLYs) and the quality adjusted life-years (QALYs).As an illustration, health changes in Poland between 1996 and 2004, evaluated by the healthy life expectancy in good perceived health, are discussed. This measure was calculated on the data coming from the health survey carried out in Poland in 1996 and 2004 according to the international recommendations.