What is the good of health care?

Bioethics. 1996 Oct;10(4):269-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8519.1996.tb00129.x.


This paper sets out to discuss what precisely is meant by "benefit" when we talk of the requirement that the health care system concern itself with health gain or with maximising beneficial health care. In particular I argue that in discharging the duty to do what is most beneficial we need to choose between rival conceptions of what is meant by beneficial. One is the patient's conception of benefit and the second is the provider's or funder's conception of benefit. I argue that it is the patient's conception of benefit which is paramount and that if this is followed it commits us to a conception of patient care which must be blind to prognosis in so far as prognosis is thought to bear upon issues of prioritisation or resource allocation.

MeSH terms

  • Altruism
  • Decision Making*
  • Delivery of Health Care*
  • Economics
  • Evidence-Based Medicine*
  • Financing, Government
  • Goals
  • Health Care Rationing*
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Moral Obligations
  • Patient Selection*
  • Patients
  • Presumed Consent
  • Prognosis*
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy
  • Quality of Life
  • Resource Allocation*
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment
  • Social Justice*
  • Social Responsibility
  • Social Values
  • Social Welfare
  • Third-Party Consent
  • Treatment Outcome*
  • Withholding Treatment