Setting Priorities in Health Care
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Health care systems are structured and funded in different ways around the world. Despite this, however, they all have something in common: they ration treatments. Rationing occurs because not all desired or even necessary treatments can be funded. Therefore decisions must be made about which treatments should be treated as a priority. Rationing appears to be a universal feature of health care provision, although the methods of priority setting can differ. In some cases, rationing occurs through market mechanisms, in other cases, particularly where state-funded health care systems exist, rationing can occur on the basis of need or through formal allocation tools such as cost-effectiveness analysis. Each of these different cases generates debate about equality and justice.
The papers published in this volume of Health Care Analysishave their origin in an inter-disciplinary research symposium run by the Centre for Professional Ethics, Keele University, UK, held in February 2004. The...