The Choice of Health Policies with Heterogeneous Populations
In: Economic Aspects of Health
AbstractDeciding whether to fund a given health program involves both statistical and ethical issues. Traditional statistical methods of measuring program effectiveness may give misleading results unless careful attention is paid to the question of population heterogeneity. Even within particular age and sex categories, members of a population typically differ in both their mortality rate and the extent to which they would benefit from a given medical intervention. It may or may not be possible to identify the risk factors (e. g., weight, smoking behavior) that explain these differences. If an intervention confers unequal benefit on different risk groups, it will change their mixture within the population over time. If those helped most are those at greatest risk, a "traditional assessment" will overstate intervention benefits. Greater accuracy can be achieved through a "standardized assessment, " which calculates intervention benefits separately for each distinctive risk group of the population. For example, a traditional assessment of pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine probably overstates program benefits and underestimates costs. Failure to recognize population heterogeneity also creates pitfalls in interpreting the results of clinical trials of new drugs, as illustrated by the example of sulfinpyrazone. As more sophisticated statistical methods improve our understanding of differential program benefits, they will also raise ethical problems. Use of a standardized assessment, for instance, may make it clear that it is cost-effective to give an intervention to certain groups (e.g., nonsmokers, the elderly) but not others. Considering this problem from an "original position" may reveal an ethically acceptable basis for making such decisions on the basis of efficiency. We believe that if people were unaware of which risk group they themselves would fall into, they would elect to allocate resources according to the principle of cost-effectiveness.
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.
This chapter was published in:
This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 6552.
Contact details of provider:
Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
Web page: http://www.nber.org
More information through EDIRC
Other versions of this item:
- Richard J. Zeckhauser & Donald S. Shepard, 1982. "The Choice of Health Policies with Heterogeneous Populations," NBER Working Papers 0612, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
You can help add them by filling out this form.
CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
- David Bishai & Jody Sindelar, 2006.
"Willingness to Pay for Drug Rehabilitation: Implications for Cost Recovery,"
NBER Working Papers
12506, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Bishai, D. & Sindelar, J. & Ricketts, E.P. & Huettner, S. & Cornelius, L. & Lloyd, J.J. & Havens, J.R. & Latkin, C.A. & Strathdee, S.A., 2008. "Willingness to pay for drug rehabilitation: Implications for cost recovery," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 959-972, July.
- John Mullahy, 2000.
"Live Long, Live Well: Quantifying the Health of Heterogenous Populations,"
NBER Working Papers
7895, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- John Mullahy, 2001. "Live long, live well: quantifying the health of heterogeneous populations," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(5), pages 429-440.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ().
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.