David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 39 (3):328-339 (2011)
Even when turning its attention to public health topics such as preventive care and workplace wellness, the Affordable Care Act law embodies a highly individualistic paradigm of health. The provisions of the law implicitly assign the primary responsibility for prevention to individuals, who should be urged to make more responsible and healthier choices about what they consume and how they live. Relatively little in the law reflects the “population perspective” set forth in public health scholarship that focuses on environmental and social determinants of health. This article explores the cultural and economic factors that led Congress to embrace a highly individualist conception of public health, and it suggests how public health advocates and legal scholars might seek to reframe the public discourse surrounding preventive health issues.
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