The Art of Saying No: The Economics and Ethics of Healthcare Rationing
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
It follows from resource scarcity that some form of healthcare rationing is unavoidable. This implies that potentially beneficial medical treatments must be denied to patients to avoid unacceptable sacrifices in other areas of society. By focusing on four, core, conceptual themes – individual responsibility, paternalism, incentives, and inequality – this thesis explores the matter of finding justifiable grounds for saying no in the context of health care.
By combining the perspectives of welfare economics and population-level ethics, the author explicate and discusses conflicting moral values involved in healthcare rationing. Four papers form the foundation for this thesis. Paper I articulates the potential role of individual responsibility as a welfarepromoting, rationing tool by exploring when healthcare services exhibit characteristics that facilitate individual responsibility for private financing. Paper II explores the normative relevance of individuals’ time preferences in healthcare rationing and when paternalism can be justified in the context of individuals’ intertemporal health choices. Paper III examines the compatibility between incentive-based organ donation and the ethical platform for setting priorities in Sweden. Paper IV empirically investigates the existence of horizontal inequalities in using waiting lists to ration care.
From the discussion it is suggested, inter alia, that: I) Prospective responsibility as opposed to retrospective responsibility is a more productive notion of responsibility when discussing actual policies. However, potential positive effects need to be weighed against the increased economic inequality that it is likely to invoke. II) Although cost-effectiveness analysis provides valuable input when making rationing decisions it should not be viewed as a decision rule, since it is based on utilitarian values that constantly need to be balanced against other nonutilitarian values. III) Potentially, increased health could negatively affect individuals’ well-being if it creates opportunities that they are unable to take advantage of. This needs to be taken into account before embarking on paternalistic policies to improve health – policies that often target the lower socioeconomic segment.
The author concludes that decisions on rationing cannot be computed through a simple formula. Moreover, given that rationing is bound to be associated with reasonable disagreements we are unlikely to ever fully resolve these disagreements. However, by explicitly stating conflicting moral values we are more likely to narrow the disagreements and achieve a healthcare system that is both fairer and more efficient.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press , 2011. , 91 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1215
National CategoryMedical and Health Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-65397ISBN: 978-91-7393-282-0OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-65397DiVA: diva2:395442
2011-02-04, Berzeliussalen, ingång 64, plan 9, Campus US, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 09:00 (Swedish)
Norheim, Ole Frithjof, Professor
Carlsson, Per, ProfessorLyttkens, Carl Hampus, Professor
List of papers