Current thinking about the methodology of health technology assessment (HTA) seems to be dominated by two fundamental tensions:  between maintaining a tight focus on quality-adjusted life-years and broadening its concern out to pay attention to a broader range of factors, and  between thinking of the evaluative dimensions that matter as being objectively important factors or as ones that are ultimately of merely subjective importance. In this study, I will argue that health is a tremendously important all-purpose means to enjoying basic human capabilities, but a mere means, and not an end. The ends to which health is a means are manifold, requiring all those engaged in policy making to exercise intelligence in a continuing effort to identify them and to think through how they interrelate. Retreating to the subjective here would be at odds with the basic idea of HTA, which is to focus on certain objectively describable dimensions of what matters about health and to collect empirical evidence rigorously bearing on what produces improvements along those dimensions. To proceed intelligently in doing HTA, it is important to stay open to reframing and refashioning the ends we take to apply to that arena. The only way for that to happen, as an exercise of public, democratic policy making, is for the difficult value questions that arise when ends clash not to be buried in subjective preference information, but to be front-and-center in the analysis.
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