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Courts and health care rationing: the case of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court

Wang, Daniel W. L. (2013) Courts and health care rationing: the case of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court. Health Economics, Policy and Law, 8 (1). pp. 75-93. ISSN 1744-1331

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S1744133112000291


The recognition that access to health care is a constitutional right in Brazil has resulted in a situation in which citizens denied treatments by the public health care system have brought lawsuits against health authorities, claiming that their right to health was violated. This litigation forces the courts to decide between a patient-centred and a population-centred approach to public health-a choice that forces the courts to assess health care rationing decisions. This article analyses the judgments of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court in right to health cases, arguing that the Court's recent decisions have been contrary to their long-standing stance against rationing. In 2009, the Court organized a public hearing to discuss this topic with civil society and established criteria to determine when rationing would be legal. However, I argue that these criteria for health care rationing do not adequately address the most difficult health care distribution dilemmas. They force the health care system to keep their rationing criteria implicit and make population-centred concerns secondary to individual-centred ones.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2013 Cambridge University Press
Divisions: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Sets: Departments > Law
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2013 16:08
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2021 02:16

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