Resource allocation. The cost of care: two troublesome cases in health care ethics. Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • With the cost of health care rising rapidly, both physicians and administrators regularly face resource allocation decisions. Under these conditions of relative scarcity, the equitable and appropriate distribution of limited resources becomes an ethical as well as a financial issue. Through ethical analysis, physician executives can assist their physician colleagues and fellow administrators to find rationally defensible answers to questions regarding the distribution of limited resources. Six criteria are frequently "weighted in the balance" by ethicists when analyzing whether justice is served in the distribution of a limited resource: need, equality, contribution, ability to pay, effort, and merit. The authors argue that, from an ethical standpoint, the best single criterion upon which one can base an allocation decision is that of merit, defined as the potential to benefit from the investment of additional resources.

publication date

  • November 1998