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Health Care Rationing and Distributive Justice


  • Friedrich Breyer

    () (Universitaet Konstanz)


The rapid progress in medical technology makes it unavoidable to ration health care. In the discussion how to ration many people claim that principles of justice in distributing scarce resources should be applied. In this paper we argue that medical resources are not scarce as such but scarcity is a necessary by-product of collective financing arrangements such as social health insurance. So the right question to ask is the determination of the benefit package of such an institution. Hartmut Kliemt is currently involved in a commendable interdisciplinary research project in which principles of 'prioritization' of medical care are studied. This contribution adds a specific perspective to this endeavour: we ask how the goal of distributive justice can be interpreted in this context and compare different approaches to implementing 'just' allocation mechanisms.

Suggested Citation

  • Friedrich Breyer, 2009. "Health Care Rationing and Distributive Justice," Rationality, Markets and Morals, Frankfurt School Verlag, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, vol. 0(27), November.
  • Handle: RePEc:rmm:journl:v:0:y:2009:i:27

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Johansson-Stenman, Olof & Martinsson, Peter, 2008. "Are some lives more valuable? An ethical preferences approach," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 739-752, May.
    2. Paul Dolan & Rebecca Shaw & Aki Tsuchiya & Alan Williams, 2005. "QALY maximisation and people's preferences: a methodological review of the literature," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(2), pages 197-208.
    3. Jose-Luis Pinto Prades, 1997. "Is the Person Trade-off a Valid Method for Allocating Health Care Resources?," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 6(1), pages 71-81.
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    Cited by:

    1. Susanna Kochskämper, 2012. "Reformdebatten in der Krankenversicherung vor dem Hintergrund des europäischen Binnenmarktes," Otto-Wolff-Institut Discussion Paper Series 02/2012, Otto-Wolff-Institut für Wirtschaftsordnung, Köln, Deutschland.


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