An Alternative Measure of Health for Value Assessment: The Equal Value Life-Year

Pharmacoeconomics. 2023 Oct;41(10):1175-1182. doi: 10.1007/s40273-023-01302-6. Epub 2023 Jul 17.


The quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) is an international standard in cost-effectiveness analysis. A known concern arises from the relatively lower QALY gains attributed to treatments that extend the life of individuals with chronic disability. We analyze here the advantages and disadvantages of the equal value life-year (evLY) as an alternative or a complementary measure to the QALY, and share learned experiences from using this measure in health technology assessments. We present the conceptual rationale for the evLY, describe how it is estimated, and assess the differences in results between analyses based on the evLY and the QALY. We share a how-to guide in estimating the evLY using a downloadable tool and summarize our empirical experience using this measure. Incremental evLYs are feasible and address concerns regarding the risk for a cost-effectiveness analysis to undervalue treatments for people with chronic disabilities. Based on our set of analyses using the evLY, a threshold of $84,000 per evLY gained would be needed to maintain alignment with a threshold of $100,000 per added QALY. The evLY is a measure of health gain that can be used as an alternative or a complement to the QALY to address concerns related to undervaluing treatments that extend the life of individuals with serious illness or chronic disability. We recommend that it be reported within all cost-effectiveness analyses but may have special relevance in the current political environment in the USA, where use of the QALY is often challenged or prohibited.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years*