CHAPTER 7
Allocating Scarce Medical Resources

Introduction

Providing health care is one thing, but paying for it is quite another. Health care spending has risen dramatically in the United States over the last twenty years. This is due to such factors as an aging population, unnecessary tests and procedures, expensive CT and MRI scans, and expensive drugs to treat various chronic medical conditions. Presently, health care spending constitutes roughly 15 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, which is well ahead of the percentage in other developed countries. Paradoxically, 43 million Americans (more than 15 percent of the population) have no health insurance.

Rationing is a way of controlling inflation of health care costs. It consists in limiting medical services within predetermined levels, thus resulting in scarcity of medical resources. There is an economic sense of scarcity driven by the aim to control costs. This is distinct from a physical sense of scarcity, which pertains to such issues as the availability of organs for transplantation. Because there are not enough medical resources to meet the medical needs of all people, we need a system of rationing our resources to meet these needs as best we can. At the same time, however, this system must respect people';s claims to have their basic medical needs met. In allocating scarce medical resources, there inevitably will be tradeoffs between equality and fairness, on the one hand, and efficiency

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Biomedical Ethics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Biomedical Ethics xi
  • Chapter 1 - History and Theories 1
  • Chapter 2 - The Patient-Doctor Relationship 23
  • Chapter 3 - Medical Research on Humans 47
  • Chapter 4 - Reproductive Rights and Technologies 71
  • Chapter 5 - Genetics 95
  • Chapter 6 - Medical Decisions at the End of Life 119
  • Chapter 7 - Allocating Scarce Medical Resources 143
  • Index 167
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