Thursday, July 16, 2009


This is a discussion of how we value human life every day in a variety of ways, and makes the case for a more straightforward discussion of limits in health spending. In short, he says we now ration all sorts of life saving technologies both within and outside the health system. He provides a very practical discussion of the ways in which we now explicitly value human life in public policy and decide sometimes that the cost of protecting life is too high (not worth it). If you have made the case that the cost of health/safety regulation is too high, you are essentially making this argument: the cost of saving a life is exorbitant. Here is an interesting paper (though a bit dated), comparing the cost-effectiveness of 500 life saving interventions.

The R word makes reasonable people lose their mind and not be able to think clearly. Rationing is really anything other than everyone getting whatever they want. Markets, for example, are a means to ration scarce resources. Our society needs a reasoned, honest and open discussion about what should be done and when in terms of medical care, and we need better ways to compare the benefits and the costs of medical treatments.

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