Do no harm: A defense of markets in healthcare [Book Review]

HEC Forum 22 (3):241-251 (2010)
This paper argues that the rules that constitute a market protect autonomy and increase welfare in healthcare. Markets do the former through protecting rights to self-ownership and a cluster of rights that protect its exercise. Markets protect welfare by organizing and protecting trades. In contrast, prohibition destroys legitimate markets, giving rise to so-called black markets that harm both the autonomy and well-being of agents. For example, a fee-for-service medical system is a highly developed and specialized market. It is individuals working together, through the division of labor, to provide mutual insurance. This coordination, and the benefits it makes possible, is not possible without injunctions against harm. Prohibitions on harm are not mere ethical niceties, they are practice rules for both healthcare and markets. Placing the doctor within a healthcare market actually reinforces the doctor’s moral obligation, and the legal enforcement of that obligation, not to harm. Similarly, markets reinforce patient rights to self-determination through legal and institutional enforcement of the harm principle in the form of the protection of certain basic welfare rights to life, bodily integrity, property, trade, and contract. Since the establishment of markets protects agent autonomy and welfare, and prohibition directly harms the same, there are strong reasons for establishing markets to protect trade in precisely those areas where autonomy and well-being are most vulnerable to exploitation, for example, the trade in human kidneys
Keywords Healthcare  Markets  Black markets  Rights  Harm  Autonomy  Fraud  Kidneys
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DOI 10.1007/s10730-010-9140-7
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John Rawls (1955). Two Concepts of Rules. Philosophical Review 64 (1):3-32.

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