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Ethics and Public Policy
Sep 2011

Health Care Reform: Ethical Considerations for Physicians

Arch Facial Plast Surg. 2011;13(5):359-361. doi:10.1001/archfacial.2011.50

Virtually every physician in the United States has been attentive to and concerned with the debate surrounding the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 and its provisions. Furthermore, it is probably valid to state that every physician has an opinion regarding the value or detriment of the Act and how it may affect his or her practice and patients. I do not plan to address the political aspects associated with the Act and any changes that might or might not occur in 2011 with a change of power in Congress; that is beyond my expertise and prediction capabilities. Instead, I hope to set forward for consideration by my colleagues some ethical considerations that may be pertinent to a physician's assessment of health care reform, as well as to raise some issues that might be unpalatable but need to be kept in mind nevertheless. I will discuss ethical considerations in health care reform in the patient-physician relationship, population-based vs patient-based medicine, professional ethics and moral requirements, and social justice. These brief comments do not aim to preach but rather to highlight some fundamental tenets of any analysis of health care reform in this country.