Willingness to Pay for Health-Related Quality of Life Gains in Relation to Disease Severity and the Age of Patients

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Objectives: Decision-making frameworks that draw on economic evaluations increasingly use equity weights to facilitate a more equitable and fair allocation of healthcare resources. These weights can be attached to health gains or reflected in the monetary threshold against which the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of (new) health technologies are evaluated. Currently applied weights are based on different definitions of disease severity and do not account for age-related preferences in society. However, age has been shown to be an important equity-relevant characteristic. This study examines the willingness to pay (WTP) for health-related quality of life (QOL) gains in relation to the disease severity and age of patients, and the outcome of the disease. Methods: We obtained WTP estimates by applying contingent-valuation tasks in a representative sample of the public in The Netherlands (n = 2023). We applied random-effects generalized least squares regression models to estimate the effect of patients’ disease severity and age, size of QOL gains, disease outcome (full recovery/death 1 year after falling ill), and respondent characteristics on the WTP. Results: Respondents’ WTP was higher for more severely ill and younger patients and for larger-sized QOL gains, but lower for patients who died. However, the relations were nonlinear and context dependent. Respondents with a lower age, who were male, had a higher household income, and a higher QOL stated a higher WTP for QOL gains. Conclusions: Our results suggest that—if the aim is to align resource-allocation decisions in healthcare with societal preferences—currently applied equity weights do not suffice.

Original languageEnglish
JournalValue in Health
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding/Support: This study is part of a larger project examining the broader societal benefits of healthcare and was funded by a consortium of GlaxoSmithKline, AbbVie, and AstraZeneca in The Netherlands.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 ISPOR–The Professional Society for Health Economics and Outcomes Research


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