Previous evidence suggests that members of the public value life saving services differently when they are for patients with a pre-existing permanent disability and when they are for patients who become disabled at the onset of treatment – for example, as a result of treatment that is not entirely effective. However, the valuation of services in these two cases has also been found to differ with the order in which they are presented in a population survey. This casts doubt upon the validity of the results and leaves unresolved the nature of the public’s true preferences. The study reported here had three main objectives: (i) to determine the considered, underlying preferences of a sample of the Australian public with respect to the treatment of the permanently disabled and chronically ill, (ii) to gain insight into the reasons for respondent’s distributive preferences and (iii) to eliminate or significantly reduce the order effect. Eight semi-structured, small-group discussions were held with 66 members of the public in Victoria, Australia. Order effects were effectively eliminated. The study found substantial support among participants for the equal treatment of the permanently disabled and chronically ill regardless of when the problem commenced.