QALYs and ethics: A health economist's perspective
AbstractObjectors on ethical grounds to the use of QALYs in priority-setting in public health care systems are here categorised as (1) those who reject all collective priority-setting as unethical; (2) those who accept the need for collective priority-setting but believe that it is contrary to medical ethics; (3) those who accept the need for collective priority-setting and do not believe that it is contrary to medical ethics, but reject the role of QALYs in it on other ethical grounds; and (4) those who accept the need for collective priority-setting in principle, but are unwilling to specify how it should be done in practice. It is argued that the first two groups of objectors are simply wrong, if distributive justice is a proper ethical concern in this context. The third group is of more interest, as this group appears to believe that QALYs are unethical because it is unethical to regard QALY maximisation as the sole objective of the health care system. This paper argues that QALYs are relevant to a much wider range of objectives than QALY maximisation, and that they can accommodate a wide variety of health dimensions and sources of valuation. They can also accommodate the differential weighting of benefits according to who gets them, so they do not commit their users to any particular notion of distributive justice. What they do commit their users to is the notion that the health of people is a central concept in priority-setting, and that it is desirable, for reasons of accountability, to have the bases for such priority-setting made as precise and explicit as possible. The fourth group of objectors needs to acknowledge that there is no perfect system on offer, and since priority-setting does and will proceed willy-nilly we cannot wait until there is. It would be more constructive to set up the desiderata that a priority-setting system should ideally fulfil, and then appraise all feasible alternatives (including the status quo) even-handedly by those criteria. None will be perfect, but this author predicts that QALYs would emerge from such an appraisal with a significant role to play.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by Elsevier in its journal Social Science & Medicine.
Volume (Year): 43 (1996)
Issue (Month): 12 (December)
Contact details of provider:
Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/315/description#description
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- Lancsar, Emily & Wildman, John & Donaldson, Cam & Ryan, Mandy & Baker, Rachel, 2011. "Deriving distributional weights for QALYs through discrete choice experiments," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 466-478, March.
- Richard Norman & Gisselle Gallego, 2008. "Equity weights for economic evaluation: An Australian Discrete Choice Experiment, CHERE Working Paper 2008/5," Working Papers, CHERE, University of Technology, Sydney 2008/5, CHERE, University of Technology, Sydney.
- Richardson, Jeff & McKie, John, 2007. "Economic evaluation of services for a National Health Scheme: The case for a fairness-based framework," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 785-799, July.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Zhang, Lei).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.