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Special Communication
April 15, 1983

Health Care Technology and the Inevitability of Resource Allocation and Rationing Decisions: Part I

Author Affiliations

From the Health and Population Study Center, Battelle Human Affairs Research Centers, Seattle.

JAMA. 1983;249(15):2047-2053. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330390051031

Increasingly, it is recognized that resources available to meet health care needs are limited. Recently, this has been evidenced by reductions in federally funded health care programs and the leveling off of research funds made available to the National Institutes of Health. The problem of severely constrained resources is likely to become more acute, given new medical technology and the high cost of medical care. It is now apparent that both resource allocation and resource-rationing decisions will become inevitable, since not all persons with catastrophic or complicated medical conditions will be able to benefit from medical technology. While the careful assessment of health care technology can conceivably increase the efficiency of the health care delivery system, the methods by which allocation and rationing decisions are made must be improved. In doing so, it will ultimately be essential for this society to come to grips with life and death issues in a manner to which it is not accustomed.

(JAMA 1983;249:2047-2053)