Futility, Autonomy, and Cost in End-of-Life Care



This paper uses the controversy over the denial of care on futility grounds as a window into the broader issue of the role of cost in decisions about treatment near the end of life. The focus is on a topic that has not received the attention it deserves: the difference between refusing medical treatment and demanding it. The author discusses health care reform and the ethics of cost control, arguing that we cannot achieve universal access to quality care at affordable care without better public understanding of the moral legitimacy of taking cost into account in health care decisions, even decisions at the end of life.