Are Indirect Benefits Relevant to Health Care Allocation Decisions?

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 41 (5):540-557 (2016)
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When allocating scarce healthcare resources, the expected benefits of alternative allocations matter. But, there are different kinds of benefits. Some are direct benefits to the recipient of the resource such as the health improvements of receiving treatment. Others are indirect benefits to third parties such as the economic gains from having a healthier workforce. This article considers whether only the direct benefits of alternative healthcare resource allocations are relevant to allocation decisions, or whether indirect benefits are relevant too. First, we distinguish different conceptions of direct and indirect benefits and argue that only a recipient conception could be morally relevant. We analyze four arguments for thinking that indirect benefits should not count and argue that none is successful in showing that the indirectness of a benefit is a good reason not to count it. We conclude that direct and indirect benefits should be evaluated in the same way.
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First archival date: 2016-08-09
Latest version: 2 (2016-10-13)
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