You have advanced kidney cancer. It will kill you, probably in the next year or two. A drug called Sutent slows the spread of the cancer and may give you an extra six months, but at a cost of $54,000. Is a few more months worth that much?
If you can afford it, you probably would pay that much, or more, to
live longer, even if your quality of life wasn't going to be good. But
suppose it's not you with the cancer but a stranger covered by your
health-insurance fund. If the insurer provides this man -- and everyone
else like him -- with Sutent, your premiums will increase. Do you still
think the drug is a good value? Suppose the treatment cost a million
dollars. Would it be worth it then? Ten million? Is there any limit to
how much you would want your insurer to pay for a drug that adds six
months to someone's life? If there is any point at which you say, "No,
an extra six months isn't worth that much," then you think that health
care should be rationed.