Medical resource allocation: rationing and ethical considerations--Part I.

P. Elfenbein, J. B. Miller, M. Milakovich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The United States' system of high-quality but expensive and poorly distributed medical care is in trouble. Dramatic advances in medical knowledge and procedures, combined with soaring demands created by growing public awareness, the cost of private hospital and medical insurance, and Medicare and Medicaid, are burdening the medical care delivery systems. The costs of medical care have reached levels that can no longer be sustained. Government officials, insurance planners, labor leaders responsible for union health care benefits, and ordinary citizens are questioning whether it is acceptable to limit health care based on economic considerations. If health care is deemed a social good, the method of allocation must be addressed. Unless society decides that other priorities of the infrastructure are to be subjugated to health service delivery, difficult decisions will be forced upon us, consciously or by default. The discussion in this two-part article explores the ethical considerations of the more formalized approaches to resource allocation that presently exist in our society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-8
Number of pages6
JournalPhysician executive
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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