In the study of medical decision-making, health care costs have perhaps received the greatest share of attention by researchers. This article illustrates an Andean pattern of medical treatment choice and how it changed when household resources suddenly became scarce during an economic crisis. With the economic downturn, highlanders did not revert from biomedical to traditional care, but continued to use each in lesser quantities, focusing their resources on the most serious cases of illness. In an effort to maximize their health satisfaction when cash flow was restricted, Andean households conserved their resources for the gravest of illnesses, foregoing treatment for mild and moderate problems. Use of traditional care diminished more than either lay biomedical or biomedical care at Time 2, despite it being the cheapest option. The quantitative analysis integrates several monetary measures, which represent both predisposing and enabling factors in health care decision-making: household wealth, household expenditures, cost of treatments, and change in cost over time.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.