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Do health care professionals find the use of age‐based rationing to reduce health care costs ethical?

Hengameh Hosseini (Department of Political Science and Public Affairs, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey, USA)

Humanomics

ISSN: 0828-8666

Publication date: 1 November 2011

Abstract

Purpose

As a result of the aging of American society, health care costs have been and will continue to rise, to the extent that they are not sustainable. Obviously, this trend will continue in spite of the 2010 health care reform. As a result of this uncontrollable problem, writers such as Daniel Callahan have proposed age‐based rationing of health care while utilizing the utilitarian notions of ethics and justice. However, other writers, utilizing more egalitarian notions of justice, have opposed this. This suggests an ethical dilemma, which has to be debated in the future. The author believes professors teaching health care related courses will be instrumental in this debate, explaining why she decided to seek the opinion of a sample of 18 professors regarding this issue. The purpose of this paper is to report on the results of this research.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative methodology, specially grounded theory, was used in this study that sought to explore the views of 18 full‐time professors who teach health care policy and administration in Northeast Pennsylvania about age‐based rationing of health care. Qualitative research is very useful uncovering the views of individuals as they relate to their experiences. In the study, professors were asked 14 questions by the author, four of these being demographic. The remaining ten questions, open ended ones, sought the opinions of these professors about their support or opposition to age‐based rationing.

Findings

The author's interviews of those 18 professors and the analysis of the responses, which revealed the complexity and multidimensional nature of the issue, led to the emergence of eight different themes.

Originality/value

The author used a qualitative method of research, interviewing 18 professors, to uncover personal views not previously published.

Keywords

Citation

Hosseini, H. (2011), "Do health care professionals find the use of age‐based rationing to reduce health care costs ethical?", Humanomics, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 282-299. https://doi.org/10.1108/08288661111181323

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited