Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics



CQ REVIEW
CQ Review

Pricing Life: Why It's Time for Health Care Rationing, by Peter A. Ubel, M.D. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2000. 208 pp. $25.00


Leonard M.  Fleck a1
a1 Philosophy and Medical Ethics, the Center for Ethics and Humanities, Michigan State University, East Lansing

Abstract

This is a book for reflective laypersons and health professionals who wish to better understand what the problem of healthcare rationing is all about. Ubel says clearly in the Introduction that it is unlikely that professional economists or philosophers are going to be very satisfied with this effort. For him it is more important “to draw people into the debates who might otherwise stand on the sidelines” (p. xix). This is a reasonable aim made achievable by Ubel's clear and engaging writing style. Probably the people who most need to be drawn into these debates are physicians and medical students, this because one of Ubel's central claims is that the need for “bedside rationing” is both inescapable and sometimes morally permissible. What he wants to reject is the view of many physicians that bedside rationing by physicians is never morally permissible and that healthcare costs can be contained without having to resort to rationing of any kind. Before I explore this point any further, it is necessary to summarize the larger argument of this book.



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