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Healthcare Resources, Distribution of

  1. Norman Daniels

Published Online: 1 FEB 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781444367072.wbiee494

The International Encyclopedia of Ethics

How to Cite

Daniels, N. 2013. Healthcare Resources, Distribution of. The International Encyclopedia of Ethics. .

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 1 FEB 2013


Few people who become ill or have ill loved ones want less than the best care possible, regardless of cost. Their clinicians generally want to do the best they can for their patients, being spurred either by career and monetary incentives or by ethical obligations. In response, all the developed societies spend considerable resources on meeting healthcare needs (see Needs). European countries expend 8–11 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare, mostly on personal medical services (Organisation for Economic and Co-Operation and Development 2009). The US, an extravagant outlier, spent 17.6 percent of GDP on healthcare in 2009 (Goldstein 2011); this figure represents 50 percent more than the next highest spending country. Yet the US is the only wealthy country that falls well short of providing universal health insurance coverage; and this is in spite of the fact that it has higher infant mortality rates and lower life expectancy than other wealthy countries – which is a result of inefficiency in its health system – and that population health is influenced by other factors than personal medical expenditures (Commonwealth Fund 2008; Davis et al. 2007). The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, if it withstands legal challenges and any legislation that follows the 2012 election, will close around 60 percent of the gap in coverage in the US, reducing the numbers of uninsured from close to 50 million to 30 million; but this is still not universal coverage, even if it significantly reduces inequalities in access to healthcare (HR 3590–111th Congress: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act 2012).


  • practical (applied) ethics;
  • equality;
  • health