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Abstract

When health budgets are insufficient to provide care for all, allocating resources to treat a person with a rare and expensive disorder entails that we cannot treat at least one person with a more common, less expensive disorder. Since any allocation scheme will entail such trade-offs, how should prudent policy-makers, concerned about justice and fairness, allocate their community's health resources? In their article in this issue of the Hastings Center Report, Emily Largent and Steven Pearson frame this problem as a conflict between the “rule of rescue” and utilitarian allocation schemes that try to maximize the benefits produced by a given budget. In his article, Norman Daniels discusses the related problem of the “identified victim bias.” I doubt that the problem of crafting an equitable health policy regarding orphan diseases maps onto either of these factors in a way that sheds light on the key moral issues.