The current distribution of health outcomes across different groups in society - for example, groups defined by social class, income, gender, race, geography or lifestyle - could be considered unfair. If a generally accepted ethical framework could be put forward which explains why certain health inequalities are unfair, and if health care is deemed to be an appropriate conduit through which to redistribute health outcomes, then it may be desirable to modify the health maximisation approach that is currently implicit within most clinical and cost-effectiveness analyses to account for distributional concerns.
This is the first of two reports from the Health Equity Network examining health economic methodologies for evaluating health inequalities and methods for setting health care priorities.
Oliver A (2003) Health care priority setting: proceedings of the meeting of the Health Equity Network. Research report. Nuffield Trust.