The profit motive in medicine.

D. W. Brock, A. E. Buchanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The ethical implications of the growth of for-profit health care institutions are complex. Two major moral criticisms of for-profit medicine are analyzed. The first claim is that for-profit health care institutions fail to fulfill their obligations to do their fair share in providing health care to the poor and so exacerbate the problem of access to health care. The second claim is that profit seeking in medicine will damage the physician-patient relationship, creating conflicts of interest that will diminish the quality of care and erode patients' trust in their physicians and the public's trust in the medical profession. The authors conclude that while the continued expansion of for-profit health care may exacerbate in some respects problems of access, trust and conflicts of interest, it is a mistake to consider these problems as unique to for-profit health care; they are problems for not for-profit health care as well. Though these issues justify continuing moral concern, they do not at this time provide decisive grounds for substantially curbing or eliminating for-profit enterprise in health care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-35
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Medicine and Philosophy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Philosophy


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