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MedGenMed. 2007 Nov 7;9(4):29.

Comparing healthcare systems: outcomes, ethical principles, and social values.

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Department of Philosophy, University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.


The question of how healthcare should be structured has been at the forefront of public debate for quite some time. In particular, debate has raged over the acceptability of socialized and rights-oriented approaches to healthcare as opposed to privatized and commodity-oriented approaches. The present discussion looks at the underlying logic of the debate and at the use of outcome measures as a primary determinant. It suggests that outcome measures are of limited use in deciding the issue because they ignore important variables and further suggests that outcome measures are inappropriate tools when comparing distinct healthcare systems because they ignore valuational components that are integral to deciding whether a healthcare system is consistent with a society's principles and values.


health outcomes; health-definition; healthcare systems; values

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