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Do health care professionals find the use of age-based rationing to reduce health care costs ethical?


  • Hengameh Hosseini


Purpose - As a result of the aging of American society, health care costs have been and will continue to rise, to the extent that they are not sustainable. Obviously, this trend will continue in spite of the 2010 health care reform. As a result of this uncontrollable problem, writers such as Daniel Callahan have proposed age-based rationing of health care while utilizing the utilitarian notions of ethics and justice. However, other writers, utilizing more egalitarian notions of justice, have opposed this. This suggests an ethical dilemma, which has to be debated in the future. The author believes professors teaching health care related courses will be instrumental in this debate, explaining why she decided to seek the opinion of a sample of 18 professors regarding this issue. The purpose of this paper is to report on the results of this research. Design/methodology/approach - Qualitative methodology, specially grounded theory, was used in this study that sought to explore the views of 18 full-time professors who teach health care policy and administration in Northeast Pennsylvania about age-based rationing of health care. Qualitative research is very useful uncovering the views of individuals as they relate to their experiences. In the study, professors were asked 14 questions by the author, four of these being demographic. The remaining ten questions, open ended ones, sought the opinions of these professors about their support or opposition to age-based rationing. Findings - The author's interviews of those 18 professors and the analysis of the responses, which revealed the complexity and multidimensional nature of the issue, led to the emergence of eight different themes. Originality/value - The author used a qualitative method of research, interviewing 18 professors, to uncover personal views not previously published.

Suggested Citation

  • Hengameh Hosseini, 2011. "Do health care professionals find the use of age-based rationing to reduce health care costs ethical?," Humanomics: The International Journal of Systems and Ethics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 27(4), pages 282-299, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:humpps:v:27:y:2011:i:4:p:282-299

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Victor R. Fuchs, 2001. "The Financial Problems of the Elderly: A Holistic Approach," NBER Working Papers 8236, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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