Fiscal Scarcity and the Inevitability of Bedside Budget Balancing

E. Haavi Morreim, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 1989;149(5):1012-1015. doi:10.1001/archinte.1989.00390050018003.
Text Size: A A A
Published online

• Until recently, generous third-party reimbursements enabled physicians to pursue each patient's interests with little regard to costs. Conscious rationing was required only episodically as some particular commodity, eg, transplant organs, was too scarce to meet demand, or as some patients lacked basic access to the health care system. Cost containment and the economic reorganization of medicine introduce a new sort of scarcity, requiring a different sort of rationing. "Fiscal scarcity," the general contraction of health care dollars, means that because every medical decision has its cost, every decision is now subject to scrutiny for its economic as well as its medical wisdom. Therefore, every detail of medicine is an allocation problem. Many observers argue that physicians can nevertheless avoid directly trading patients' interests against economic considerations: through "efficiency protocols" that eliminate marginal benefits, through turning economic rationing decisions over to outside parties, through avoiding cost constraints until society has established a just health care allocation system. This article shows that none of these proposals permits the physician to escape cost-cutting at the bedside.

(Arch Intern Med. 1989;149:1012-1015)


Sign In to Access Full Content

Don't have Access?

Register and get free email Table of Contents alerts, saved searches, PowerPoint downloads, CME quizzes, and more

Subscribe for full-text access to content from 1998 forward and a host of useful features

Activate your current subscription (AMA members and current subscribers)

Purchase Online Access to this article for 24 hours





Meets CME requirements for:
Browse CME for all U.S. States
Accreditation Information
The American Medical Association is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians. The AMA designates this journal-based CME activity for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM per course. Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Physicians who complete the CME course and score at least 80% correct on the quiz are eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 CreditTM.
Note: You must get at least of the answers correct to pass this quiz.
You have not filled in all the answers to complete this quiz
The following questions were not answered:
Sorry, you have unsuccessfully completed this CME quiz with a score of
The following questions were not answered correctly:
Commitment to Change (optional):
Indicate what change(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Your quiz results:
The filled radio buttons indicate your responses. The preferred responses are highlighted
For CME Course: A Proposed Model for Initial Assessment and Management of Acute Heart Failure Syndromes
Indicate what changes(s) you will implement in your practice, if any, based on this CME course.
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).
Submit a Comment


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Web of Science® Times Cited: 51

Sign In to Access Full Content

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.