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Responsibility Considerations and the Design of Health Care Policies: A Survey Study of the Norwegian Population

Abstract

The objective of this article is to explore people’s attitudes toward responsibility in the allocation of public health care resources. Special attention is paid to conceptualizations of responsibility involving blame and sanctions. A representative sample of the Norwegian population was asked about various responsibility mechanisms that have been proposed in the theoretical literature on health care and personal responsibility, from denial of treatment to a tax on unhealthy consumer goods. Survey experiments were employed to study treatment effects, such as whether fairness considerations affect attitudes about responsibility. We find that, overall, a substantial minority of the respondents find it fair to let the health care system sanction people—in one way or another—for voluntary behaviors that increase the risk of becoming ill. Quite surprisingly, we find that people are more prone to report that they should themselves be held responsible for unhealthy lifestyles than others.

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Notes

  1. See, e.g., The Norwegian Tax Administration (2020).

  2. To illustrate, a value of, for example, .1 means that it is 10% more likely that a respondent answered “yes” (agreed to lower priority) in the treatment group than in the control group.

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Correspondence to Cornelius Cappelen.

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Cappelen, C., Midtbø, T. & Bærøe, K. Responsibility Considerations and the Design of Health Care Policies: A Survey Study of the Norwegian Population. HEC Forum 34, 115–138 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10730-020-09430-8

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Keywords

  • Health
  • Personal responsibility
  • Fairness