The age-rationing debate of fifteen years ago will inevitably reemerge as health care costs escalate. All age-rationing proposals should be judged in light of the current system of rationing health care by price in the U.S., and the resulting pattern of excess and deprivation. Age-rationing should be rejected as public policy, but recognized as a personal virtue of stewardship among the elderly.
By comparison to other developed nations, both the health care and the health status of children in the U.S. are poor. Ethical arguments for covering all children for health services are numerous, but most of them require the suppression of self-interested motivations. Drawing from and developing the arguments of David Hume, this essay argues that self-interested motives need not work against an inclusive system, and can strengthen the case for covering children in particular. Anyone who hopes to benefit from the (...) inter-generational transfers currently required by Social Security and Medicare policies should be an advocate for health care for all children. (shrink)
This essay argues that Hume's theory of justice can be useful in framing a more persuasive case for universal access in health care. Theories of justice derived from a Rawlsian social contract tradition tend to make the conditions for deliberation on justice remote from the lives of most persons, while religiously-inspired views require superhuman levels of benevolence. By contrast, Hume's theory derives justice from the prudent reflections of socially-encumbered selves. This provides a more accessible moral theory and a more realistic (...) path to the establishment of universal access. (shrink)
Describing the U.S. health care system meansdescribing managed care under commercial forces.Managed care creates new moral tension forpractitioners, but more importantly, in its currentform it intensifies the commercialization of healthexpectations and interactions. The largely unregulatedmarketing of health services under managed care hasbeen a major factor in the increasing number ofuninsured citizens, while claims for cost reductionthrough managed care are equivocal. Risk-ratingpractices integral to the current medical marketplacethwart concerns for justice in allocation and createvulnerabilities for almost everyone. Thepolitical-moral concern of the (...) early 1990s for a rightto health care is nowhere in sight. (shrink)
Edmund Pellegrino claims that medical ethics must be derived from a perception of the patient's damaged humanity, rather than from the self-imposed duties of professionals. This essay explores the meaning and examines the challenges to this patient-centered ethic. Social scientific and bioethical interpretations of medicine constitute one kind of challenge. A more pervasive challenge is the ascendancy of managed care, and especially investor-owned, for-profit managed care. A list of questions addressed to patients, physicians and organizations is offered as one means (...) of assessing this threat and moving toward morally trustworthy relationships. (shrink)
AIDS and the responses and attitudes it evokes surpass the analytic abilities of standard bioethics. These responses and attitudes are explored in terms of literary and anthropological categories, such as dirt, disorder, pollution and ritual cleanliness. Implications for medical education are suggested.
Drew Leder's Clinical Interpretation: The Hermeneutics of Medicine  is an essay which understates its case and thereby opens itself to misinterpretation. This response to Leder argues for a more thorough-going hermeneutic for both medicine and science. At the conceptual as well as the practical level, modern medicine and its scientific foundations are hermeneutic enterprises. The purpose of this essay is to argue that we should not back away from this more radical thesis. Embracing it will result in less alienation (...) of physicians from patients, and of physicians from the tasks of medicine. (shrink)
The ethicist's role in the clinical context is not presently well defined. Ethicists can be thought of as moralists, technicians, Sophists, or as teachers and learners. Each of these roles is examined in turn. An argument is made for the ethicist as a teacher who must also learn a great deal about the clinical setting in order to encourage an effective critical examination of basic values. Four specific tasks of this teaching role are discussed: describing moral experience, eliciting assumptions, considering (...) multiple alternatives and justifying choices. (shrink)