Objectives: Patient production losses occur when individuals’ capacities to work, whether paid or unpaid, are impaired by illness, treatment, disability, or death. There is controversy about whether and how to include patient production losses in economic evaluations in health care. Patient production losses have not previously been considered when evaluating medications for reimbursement under the U.K. National Health Service. Proposals for value-based assessment of health technologies in the United Kingdom created renewed interest in whether and how to include costs from a wider societal perspective, such as patient production losses, within economic evaluation of healthcare interventions.
Methods: A narrative review was undertaken of theoretical, ethical, and policy issues that might inform decisions that involve the normative question of whether or not to include patient production losses in economic evaluation.
Results: It seems difficult to reconcile the implications of including patient production losses with the objectives of a healthcare system dedicated to providing universal healthcare coverage without regard to patients’ ability to pay.
Conclusions: Tax payer funded healthcare systems may legitimately adopt maximands other than health gain, but these will be at the opportunity cost of less than maximum health gains.