The word used to describe health care costs in the U.S. for the last several years is “unsustainable.” If the descriptor is accurate, and no one seriously disputes that it is, we must learn to use medical services more wisely, pay less for those we use, or both. Contributors look at ethically defensible ways to do both—from eliminating waste and using resources more cost-effectively to designing new ways to pay for products and services that are essential.
The objective is to compare the costs of providing the same level of quality. When resource-use and quality measures are juxtaposed, the resources used to provide the same level of quality can be compared.
Why is there such an apparent mismatch between what our spending priorities ought to be and the actual allocation of funds? Differences in wealth, which often translate into greater political power, offer a partial explanation.