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By avoiding the difficult and uncomfortable issue of assigning monetary values to intangible health benefits, cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) sacrifices the easy decision rule of cost-benefit analysis (CBA): An intervention or program represents an economically appropriate use of scarce resources if and only if the value of its health benefits exceeds its costs. Unfortunately, for the analyst preparing a CEA and the decision-maker faced with the findings from a CEA, the monetization of intangible health benefits by CEA can only be avoided in appearance. The decision maker must still wrestle with the value versus cost trade-off to interpret the results of the analysis. Therefore, the analyst also faces the dilemma of whether or not to provide the decision maker with guidance as to whether or not ...

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