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June 24, 1996

The Public's Preference for Bedside Rationing

Author Affiliations

Winston-Salem, NC

Arch Intern Med. 1996;156(12):1353. doi:10.1001/archinte.1996.00440110125019

Ubel and Arnold1 do a remarkable job of cataloguing the flaws in the ethical opposition to bedside rationing as compared with thirdparty rules. Although they are correct that we are sorely in need of empirical data about the actual effects of bedside rationing, they might have observed that we do have knowledge of public opinion. Considering that other rationing mechanisms are enforced by insurers and government bureaucrats, the public is overwhelmingly on the side of rationing by medical professionals. A 1992 poll conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, DC, found that 35% of those surveyed would prefer their family physician to set any necessary limits on health care services, 35% would chose a local panel of medical professionals, and only 9% would favor insurers or employers setting limits. A nationwide survey conducted in 1994 by Harris (commissioned by the Medica Foundation, Minneapolis, Minn) found that 34% of

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