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In this paper, I aim to demonstrate that the consequences of the current United States health insurance scheme on both physician and patient autonomy is dire. So dire, in fact, that the only moral solution is something other than what we have now. The United States healthcare system faces much criticism at present. But my focus is particular: I am interested in the ways in which insurance interferes with physician and patient autonomy. (I do not consider The Affordable Care Act much of a change in this aspect of the system, for it still relies heavily on private insurance, albeit often subsidized.) I will argue in favor of an expansion of the traditional conception of what I call “medical autonomy” or “healthcare autonomy” and the usual role it plays in bioethical discussions. More generally, I show that in morally designing or evaluating any healthcare system, serious attention should be paid to how this system helps foster what I call active autonomy.
KeywordsInsurance Healthcare Autonomy Patient autonomy
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