Should Economists decide who Lives?

Recently, I had a question about cost effectiveness analysis. Basically this is a branch of Economics which looks at which health treatments offer the best return for the cost involved.

The problem is that health care is an emotive issue and the idea of economists saying which treatments should be used and which should not be allowed is liable to create much criticism.

This short essay is a look at some of the issues involved – Deciding Who Gets Treatment 

The fundamental problem of economics is scarcity and therefore each decision involves an opportunity cost. If we spend £1million pounds on one drug then we cannot spend it on other things. Economists can help decide who gets the treatment, but, it is society which needs to decide how much resources are given to health care.

If we want to give everyone access to the latest drugs, no matter what the cost – are we willing to pay the opportunity cost of higher taxes?

By on December 14th, 2007

One thought on “Should Economists decide who Lives?

  1. The perspective used in economic valuation is of paramount importance in deciding the effective allocation of scarce resources.
    Society, as a whole can contribute but the issue then would be it could be a biased decision on allocation as people, most of them healthy, would fail to understand the specific disease conditions and requirements of patients. Nursing perspective could prove to be of ome value here. If nurses are allowed a say in the matters of allocation of interventions, then such issues could be addressed.
    Again using the notion of willingness to pay as an outcome measure in the cost benefit analysis could disadvantage the economically weaker sections of the society.
    The issue of time trade off(TTO), also raises several ethical issues. A patient suffering from a specific condition might attach a lower value onto his life when asked by economists to do so on a scale.

Comments are closed.