We argue that the economic evaluation of health care (cost–benefit analysis) should respect individual preferences and should incorporate distributional considerations. Relying on individual preferences does not imply subjective welfarism. We propose a particular non-welfarist approach, based on the concept of equivalent income, and show how it helps to define distributional weights. We illustrate the feasibility of our approach with empirical results from a pilot survey. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.