Ethics and Healthcare Reform in the US
Medicine was an art, then a profession, but it is now a business. The biotechnology revolution radically changed the practice of medicine as private enterprise with lack of regulation produced a financially unsustainable system. As healthcare costs sky rocketed, medical care became the major cause of bankruptcy in the US. Unlike other countries, the US is unable to negotiate prices with the healthcare industry. Without fixed, reasonable pricing, hospitals, pharmaceutical and device companies can continue to charge more as private insurance companies increase fees accordingly. Employer-sponsored health insurance, an effective modality in the early 20th century, is no longer a viable option. Many Americans remain uninsured and others are vastly underinsured because the US is the only industrialized nation without a form of universal healthcare. The US was founded upon the principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Democracy is supposed to foster equal opportunity. With increasing inequality and racism, lack of health insurance due to its exorbitant cost is inconsistent with equal opportunity and “the good life”. Medical care should not be based on a business model because healthcare justice is a moral issue, not a financial one. These ethical concerns and options for a more morally responsible US healthcare system will be discussed.