The case for managed care: reappraising medical and socio-political ideals

J Med Philos. 1999 Oct;24(5):415-33. doi: 10.1076/jmep.24.5.415.2519.


The arguments against managed care can be divided into two general clusters. One cluster concerns the way managed care undermines the ethical ideals of medical professionalism. Since those ideals largely focus on the physician-patient relation, the first cluster comes under the rubric of micro-ethics; namely, the ethics of individual-individual relations. The second cluster of criticisms focuses on macro-ethical issues, primarily on issues of justice and policy. By reviewing these arguments, it becomes clear that managed care does not easily fit within traditional modes of ethical analysis. It poses a radical challenge to current medical and socio-political norms, and even resists the distinction between micro- and macro-ethical domains, a distinction that reflects the private/public distinction. Managed care organizations call for a third way, an inter-ethic for middle level organizations. The essays in this Journal provide a first step in this radical reassessment, laying the foundation for an organizational ethic that is responsive to the realities and promise of managed care.

MeSH terms

  • Ethical Analysis*
  • Ethics*
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Government Regulation
  • Humans
  • Managed Care Programs*
  • Organizational Culture
  • Organizational Policy
  • Paternalism
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Policy Making
  • Politics
  • Public Policy
  • Resource Allocation
  • Social Change
  • Social Justice
  • Social Responsibility
  • Social Values
  • Sociology