Ethics in Health Care

James Hammitt smiling during meeting.

Professor James Hammitt spoke at a conference on “Ordeals in Health Care: Ethics and Efficient Delivery,” sponsored by the Petrie-Flom Center at the Harvard Law School in May. The conference addressed the topic of whether it may be ethical to allocate access to health care by imposing “ordeals” (i.e., non-monetary burdens such as waiting times, complex application forms, or physical pain) on individuals seeking care. Unlike monetary prices, such ordeals create deadweight costs to society (the harm to the individual suffering the ordeal is not offset by a benefit to someone else). However, they can be useful in targeting services to individuals who might be priced-out if access were restricted using prices.

Learn more: Read about the conference.
Learn more: Visit the CHDS page on the related topic “Preferences and Values”.

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