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Cost Eff Resour Alloc. 2003 Feb 26;1(1):4.

Separate spheres and indirect benefits.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Bioethics, Warren G, Maguson Clinical Centre, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-1156, USA. Dbrock@mail.cc.nih.gov

Abstract

On any plausible account of the basis for health care resource prioritization, the benefits and costs of different alternative resource uses are relevant considerations in the prioritization process. Consequentialists hold that the maximization of benefits with available resources is the only relevant consideration. Non-consequentialists do not reject the relevance of consequences of benefits and costs, but insist that other considerations, and in particular the distribution of benefits and costs, are morally important as well. Whatever one's particular account of morally justified standards for the prioritization of different health interventions, we must be able to measure those interventions' benefits and costs.There are many theoretical and practical difficulties in that measurement, such as how to weigh extending life against improving health and quality of life as well as how different quality of life improvements should be valued, but they are not my concern here. This paper addresses two related issues in assessing benefits and costs for health resource prioritization. First, should benefits be restricted only to health benefits, or include as well other non health benefits such as economic benefits to employers from reducing the lost work time due to illness of their employees? I shall call this the Separate Spheres problem. Second, should only the direct benefits, such as extending life or reducing disability, and direct costs, such as costs of medical personnel and supplies, of health interventions be counted, or should other indirect benefits and costs be counted as well? I shall call this the Indirect Benefits problem. These two issues can have great importance for a ranking of different health interventions by either a cost/benefit or cost effectiveness analysis (CEA) standard.

PMID:
12773217
PMCID:
PMC156023
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