Chapter

Consumer-Directed Health Care: Promise or Puffery?

Daniel Callahan

in The Roots of Bioethics

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199931378
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980598 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199931378.003.0011
Consumer-Directed Health Care: Promise or Puffery?

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Consumer-directed health care is one of the basic ideas that emerged in recent years as a way of bringing greater efficiency and cost control into health care. Its principal aims are to give patients greater control over their care, economically and medically, and to improve competition among providers to increase the range of patient control. Its roots are American, bespeaking a cultural suspicion of government, a worry about rising costs, and an appeal to the popularity of choice in almost all matters, now including health care. Consumer-directed health care also bespeaks the ideology of market ideology, drawing on market concepts in economics and a push by American conservatives (particularly President George W. Bush) to privatize as much of American health care as possible. It draws particularly on the business community as a source of ideas and inspiration, assuming that if choice and competition work well in the commercial sector, it will work equally well in health care. That is a mistaken belief.

Keywords: consumer choice; privatization; conservatives; market; hype

Chapter.  5148 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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