Jul 17, 2009

The Ethical Case for Health Care Rationing

After writing my last post, I came across a relevant and very interesting article due to be published in this coming weekend's New York Times Magazine. It is written by Peter Singer, the well-known bioethicist.

Singer attempts to make the ethical case for health care rationing in the United States. What I found most intriguing was his argument that health care is already rationed in this country, but it's just done in ways that are much less visible -- and more arbitrary -- than in Britain, for example, where an independent government committee decides how much can be spent per person per treatment. In the US, by contrast, rationing comes in the shape of long waits in emergency rooms (rationing by ability to wait), high co-payments (rationing by ability to pay). Singer goes on to argue that rationing should be practiced transparently and systematically instead of in the current haphazard and arbitrary manner.

It's an intriguing argument and one that is sure to raise the hackles of many who read it. I'm not even sure how I feel about it! But it is certainly worth the read.

On a decidedly less important side note, Singer proposes a rationed, government-based health care plan for all Americans and suggests that it be called Medicare for All. If I may be so bold as to offer a tweak on that name, I think MedicALL has a nice ring to it.

That's it from me. Happy reading.

-- Alexi Nazem

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