Capabilities as menus: A non-welfarist basis for QALY evaluation

Bleichrodt, Han, and John Quiggin. "Capabilities as Menus: A Non-welfarist Basis for QALY Evaluation." Journal of Health Economics 32, no. 1 (2013): 128–137.

Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) are the most widely used measure of health in economic evaluations of health care. Within a welfarist framework QALYs are consistent with people’s preferences under stringent assumptions. Several authors have argued that QALYs are a valid measure of health within an extra-welfarist framework. This paper studies the applicability of QALYs within the best-known extra-welfarist framework, Sen’s capability approach. We propose a procedure to value capability sets and provide a foundation for QALYs within Sen’s capability approach. We show that, under appropriate conditions, the ranking of capabilities can be represented locally by a QALY measure and that a willingness to pay for QALYs can be defined. The validity of QALYs as a general measure of health requires the same stringent conditions as in a welfarist framework.

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