Some of the basic elements that drive the understanding of health ethics concern the accessibility to quality health care. With health care costs being so high, many people that are experiencing financial challenge find themselves struggling to have access to quality health care. One of the most important elements that drive health ethics is the examination of the role of cost and efficiency in providing quality health care to all people. An important element or component of health care ethics centers on the role of cost of and access to quality health care. Cynda Hylton Rushton PhD, RN, the new Anne and George L. Bunting Professor of Clinical Ethics at Johns Hopkins University suggested this when she argued that, "It raises a real question about whether the right values are driving our focus in our healthcare system...Should efficiency be the driver?” Examining the role of cost and efficiency in modern health care is one of the defining components of contemporary health ethics.
A more long- standing ethical issue that has dominated the discourse has been the right to die. As life spans increase and a new generation of people are able to live life into their 80s and 90s, a significant ethical issue is euthanasia and the right to die. This issue dovetails into the cost concern in modern health care ethics. The ethical concern about whether or not a patient or their loved one has the right to terminate their life will become a considerable ethical concern as the length of life increases and individuals live longer lives. Along these lines, as organ donation becomes a wider reality and more people willingly become organ donors, there are ethical questions as to who receives these vital organs in their times of need. The presence of black market organ donation is of vital importance to the ethical debate regarding health ethics. Around the world, people are being enticed to donate vital organs like kidneys for short term economic profit. These organs are then being sold to organizations around the world for massive profit. There are ethical questions surrounding the allocation and procurement of organ donation. This issue is of critical concern in the health ethics discourse.