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May 1975

Health and Social Choice

Arch Intern Med. 1975;135(5):738-741. doi:10.1001/archinte.1975.00330050112021

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In the preceding chapters, I have discussed the major problems of health and medical care now facing the American people and have delineated the different social choices that must be made. These problems—high cost, inadequate access, and unsatisfactory health levels—have been examined from the economic point of view, which stresses the need to allocate scarce resources efficiently in order to best satisfy diverse human wants. For most Americans, better health is not the only, or even the most important, goal. For most Americans, more medical care is not the only, or even the most promising, route to better health.

The approach of this book has been to explore the relationship between health and such socioeconomic factors as income, education, and life-style and to examine in detail the principal elements of medical care: the physician, the hospital, and drugs. Economic analyses of these elements reveal significant opportunities for reorganizing care in

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