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  • Print publication year: 2014
  • Online publication date: October 2014

9 - Constrained resources


There is no question that financial and medical effects will both be considered when making health care decisions at all levels of policymaking; the only question is whether they will be considered well.

Elaine J. Power and John M. Eisenberg


Medical care entails benefits, harms, and costs. Until this chapter our approach has involved weighing benefits against harms for individuals and groups of patients and choosing the actions that provide the greatest expected health benefit. Now we extend our analysis to consider expressly the economic costs of health care and resource allocation decisions for populations.

As with all economic goods and services, the provision of health care consumes resources. Hospital beds, medical office facilities, medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and the time of physicians, nurses, other health-care workers, and family members all contribute to health care. The consumption of these resources constitutes the economic costs of health care.

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