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Medical Cost-Benefit Ethics

New medical treatments are being developed that work with the body’s own systems to fight dreaded diseases like cancer. The high cost of these treatments plays into the current national debate about single-payer health care’s goal of reducing the cost of medical treatment. Part of the equation, as ethicists note, is the question of the value of human life. If a treatment will extend a life by at least four months, is it worth a $100,000 price tag? Beyond the issue of a particular life lies another dynamic: that because so-called early adopters pay such huge prices, field experience is gained, markets are established, and prices are brought down to more manageable levels. Without the individual freedom to choose to spend excessively, will the space to experiment with new treatment modalities continue to exist? If not, what is the cost in human life? And who decides who gets the treatment, and who does not? Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly correspondent Bob Faw explores the ethics of medical treatment costs in this eight-minute video news report.

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