Resource Allocation in Healthcare: Implications of Models of Medicine as a Profession

Eike-Henner W. Kluge, PhD

In This Article


For decades, the problem of how to allocate healthcare resources in a just and equitable fashion has been the subject of concerted discussion and analysis, yet the issue has stubbornly resisted resolution. This article suggests that a major reason for this is that the discussion has focused exclusively on the nature and status of the material resources, and that the nature and role of the medical profession have been entirely ignored. Because physicians are gatekeepers to healthcare resources, their role in allocation is central from a process perspective. This article identifies 3 distinct interpretations of the nature of medicine, shows how each mandates a different method of allocation, and argues that unless an appropriate model of medicine is developed that acknowledges the valid points contained in each of the 3 approaches, the allocation problem will remain unsolvable.

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