From Needs to Health Care Needs
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One generally considered plausible way to allocate resources in health care is according to people’s needs. In this paper I focus on a somewhat overlooked issue, that is the conceptual structure of health care needs. It is argued that what conceptual understanding of needs one has is decisive in the assessment of what qualifies as a health care need and what does not. The aim for this paper is a clarification of the concept of health care need with a starting point in the general philosophical discussion about needs. I outline three approaches to the concept of need and argue that they all share the same conceptual underpinnings. The concept of need is then analyzed in terms of a subject x needing some object y in order to achieve some goal z. I then discuss the relevant features of the object y and the goal z which make a given need qualify as a health care need and not just a need for anything.
KeywordsHarm Health Health care Health care need Need Priority-setting Rationing Well-being
For helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper I would like to thank Niklas Juth, Lennart Nordenfelt, Ingemar Nordin, Lars Sandman and Stellan Welin.
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