Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University Medical Center
Correspondence: Edmund D. Pellegrino, M.D., John Carroll Professor of Medicine and Medical Ethics, Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University Medical Center, 4000 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20007, USA.
Edmund D. Pellegrino; The Commodification of Medical and Health Care: The Moral Consequences of a Paradigm Shift from a Professional to a Market Ethic. J Med Philos 1999; 24 (3): 243-266. doi: 10.1076/jmep.184.108.40.2063
Commodification of health care is a central tenet of managed care as it functions in the United States. As a result, price, cost, quality, availability, and distribution of health care are increasingly left to the workings of the competitive marketplace. This essay examines the conceptual, ethical, and practical implications of commodification, particularly as it affects the healing relationship between health professionals and their patients. It concludes that health care is not a commodity, that treating it as such is deleterious to the ethics of patient care, and that health is a human good that a good society has an obligation to protect from the market ethos.