Why We Must Ration Health Care - NYTimes.com copy

Why We Must Ration Health Care - NYTimes.com copy - Why We...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–3. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
8/24/09 10:18 AM Why We Must Ration Health Care - NYTimes.com Page 1 of 10 July 19, 2009 Why We Must Ration Health Care By PETER SINGER You have advanced kidney cancer. It will kill you, probably in the next year or two. A drug called Sutent slows the spread of the cancer and may give you an extra six months, but at a cost of $54,000. Is a few more months worth that much? If you can afford it, you probably would pay that much, or more, to live longer, even if your quality of life wasn’t going to be good. But suppose it’s not you with the cancer but a stranger covered by your health-insurance fund. If the insurer provides this man — and everyone else like him — with Sutent, your premiums will increase. Do you still think the drug is a good value? Suppose the treatment cost a million dollars. Would it be worth it then? Ten million? Is there any limit to how much you would want your insurer to pay for a drug that adds six months to someone’s life? If there is any point at which you say, “No, an extra six months isn’t worth that much,” then you think that health care should be rationed. In the current U.S. debate over health care reform , “rationing” has become a dirty word. Meeting last month with five governors, President Obama urged them to avoid using the term, apparently for fear of evoking the hostile response that sank the Clintons’ attempt to achieve reform. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed published at the end of last year with the headline “Obama Will Ration Your Health Care,” Sally Pipes, C.E.O. of the conservative Pacific Research Institute, described how in Britain the national health service does not pay for drugs that are regarded as not offering good value for money, and added, “Americans will not put up with such limits, nor will our elected representatives.” And the Democratic chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Max Baucus , told CNSNews in April, “There is no rationing of health care at all” in the proposed reform. Remember the joke about the man who asks a woman if she would have sex with him for a million dollars? She reflects for a few moments and then answers that she would. “So,” he says, “would you have sex with me for $50?” Indignantly, she exclaims, “What kind of a woman do you think I am?” He replies: “We’ve already established that. Now we’re just haggling about the price.” The man’s response implies that if a woman will sell herself at any price, she is a prostitute. The way we regard rationing in health care seems to rest on a similar assumption, that it’s immoral to apply monetary considerations to saving lives — but is that stance tenable?
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full DocumentRight Arrow Icon
8/24/09 10:18 AM Why We Must Ration Health Care - NYTimes.com Page 2 of 10 Health care is a scarce resource, and all scarce resources are rationed in one way or another. In
Background image of page 2
Image of page 3
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

This note was uploaded on 04/10/2010 for the course ECON 211 taught by Professor Na during the Fall '08 term at Rice.

Page1 / 10

Why We Must Ration Health Care - NYTimes.com copy - Why We...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 3. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online