The Right to Life

August 27, 2009 § Leave a comment

As I have mentioned in my post before, opportunity cost is the key concept in economics, which “is the value of the next best alternative forgone as the result of making a decision (Wikipedia, 2009).  Let me link a 4 year old patient with l (seeking for further treatment, a slim chance that could save his life) and the economic concept, opportunity cost.

What is the opportunity cost of treating the leukemia patient? The cost of not treating the leukemia patient; there is a scarcity in medical services and specialists who can be spent to treat  their time and effort to treat other patients with more probability to recover.

What is the opportunity cost of not treating him? The cost of not treating the patient is that many others who have a higher chance in surviving can be treated. Another is that the boy will die, and also the grief of the parents.

If the treatment has only a slim chance of success, can it be justified? As it states in paragraph 4, “If the health authority were to spend all its money on treatments which doctors had advised were extremely unlikely to succeed, and then had no money left to treat hundreds of other patients who might have been effectively treated, what would the public have to say about that?” If the treatment has only a slim chance of success, then why spend all that effort on just one person while many others have that hope? Money should be spent on research instead of treatment.

In what sense is this case typical of all economic decisions? If there was no scarcity, then the patient and his parents wouldn’t have to go through all this! Because of scarcity in medical services, there is only a limited amount of people who can receive the care they should have.

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