This paper presents the first attempt to use a discrete choice experiment to derive distributional weights for quality adjusted life years (QALYs), based on characteristics (age and severity) of the beneficiaries. A novel approach using the Hicksian compensating variation is applied. Advantages include derivation of weights for QALYs, not just for life or life years saved, and investigation of the impact of the size of the health gain by allowing the gain to be traded against other characteristics. Results suggest one would generally not weight QALYs, except in a small number of specific cases and in those cases the weights are relatively small. Methodological challenges are highlighted as is a future research agenda.
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