A Win-Win?


  • Gregory E. Kaebnick


There is widespread agreement that medical care offered at the end of a life ought to accord with the preferences of the person whose life it is, at least if the care requested would not be futile. There is considerable evidence, too, that making care more “patient-centered” in this way would tend to lower the cost of care, for the simple reason that people in those straits often prefer to avoid the most intrusive and therefore most expensive care. So patient-centered care could be a win-win of sorts: there could be a collective benefit of lowering costs along with the individual benefit of conforming care better to what the patient wants. But to what degree should the collective benefit be an express goal of health reform, in light of the fact that a given patient might want whatever intrusive, aggressive interventions stand a chance of prolonging life? This question animates several items in this issue of the Report.