Is your life worth more than $130,000? In Holland, it isn't. The Council for Public Health and Healthcare (RVZ) recently advised that only those treatments which cost less than €80,000 to keep a patient alive in good health for a year longer should be eligible for reimbursement.

But the use of an explicit 'value' for lifesaving health care is a controversial discussion in the Netherlands, just like it would be anywhere, and that's wrong, according to health economist professor Han Bleichrodt.

Bleichrodt is professor of health economics at the Erasmus School of Economics and the Erasmus Medical Centre of the Erasmus University Rotterdam and recent visiting professor at the University of California, Irvine.

Adhering to a defined limit when awarding compensation leads to better expenditure of public funds and makes the healthcare policy transparent, he says, though the calculation methods must become more trasparent, with attention to quality of life. In a lecture entitled 'The Value of Health', held on Friday 19 September 19th 2008 at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, he outlined why he thinks frank metrics for the value of life, and the proposed €80,000 number, is a good thing.

“Using a value like this is often seen as a means of making cutbacks, but that is definitely not the case. Good calculations not only take into account the costs, but also the gains. Expensive operations, such as heart transplants, yield a great many gains,” he says.

Adhering to an explicit value for health leads to better expenditure of public funds, says Bleichrodt. Choices made in the healthcare sector also become more visible. Bleichrodt says the existing methods used by health economists are not reliable but this can be easily remedied. In his inaugural lecture he demonstrated how he says society can value health in a reliable manner, while devoting explicit attention to quality of life.

Rather than try to encapsulate it too much more, here is a link to the 15-page PDF.

Oratie prof.dr. Han Bleichrodt, Faculteit der economische wetenschappen, Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, Hierop rust een embargo tot vrijdagmiddag 19 september 2008, 16 uur. The Value of Health