english.prescrire.org > Positions > Ethics > Health spending: a matter of choice

Theme: Ethics

The world of healthcare abounds in grey areas. As the lines blur between treatment and research, between innovation and progress, between patient and consumer, ethics must remain at the forefront of healthcare education and information. 

Health spending: a matter of choice

Winter cold: the cost of reducing some effects of social exclusion is modest, especially compared with some health spending whose benefits are sometimes extremely limited.

With the winter cold, the homeless are often in the headlines, especially when one of them freezes to death in the street or in a makeshift shelter.

Wanting to change things is a matter of choice. What can society do to prevent the risk of exclusion and prevent vulnerable individuals from falling into a vicious circle of exclusion? For example how much are we prepared to spend on renovating housing that is unfit for habitation? Or on making decent accommodation available while people are waiting for housing worthy of that name, when the winter cold adds to the difficulties of some people whose lives are already socially precarious?

It seems baffling that the French social system reverses priorities, reimbursing the umpteenth chemotherapy treatment with dubious clinical results at the highest rate, or an implant for purely cosmetic reasons, before allocating resources to the most disadvantaged people, especially during the winter.

Some tens of millions of euros would suffice to provide shelter for more than a month for tens of thousands of people, in properly heated accommodation. A modest sum compared with health spending that is open to criticism in a number of areas, or to the sums invested to “save” a single bank.

©Prescrire 2009

Source: "Choix" Rev Prescrire 2008; 28 (302) : 881.