Both willingness to pay (WTP) and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) are used to measure health benefits. QALYs are much more commonly used in health research and policy in the UK than WTP. Briefly discuss why QALYs are more commonly used with reference to the strengths and weaknesses of both methods. (500 words)
Quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) allow for distributive justice in that it offers consistency and reduces budgetary waste, unlike WTP. This allows for the greatest good to be achieved for the greatest number. Also, regardless of the clinical discipline direct comparison of alternatives is possible with QALY while WTP does not allow for comparison. This is since the price of the outcome in quality and number of years lost or gained is what is important to the cost per QALY other than the treatment price. In summary, an expensive treatment may have a low cost per QALY if it brings significant benefit to patients; likewise, a cheaper treatment may have a high cost per QALY if the degree of benefit is relatively low. Therefore, QALYs are very useful to use in priority setting making them common in use in health research and policy.
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