Managed Care or Managed Inequality? A Call for Critiques of Market-Based Medicine

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Abstract

This review article critiques the growing dominance of market-based medicine in the United States against the background of existing problems with quality of care, rising costs, devaluation of doctor–patient relationships, and, especially, persistent inequalities of access and outcomes. It summarizes the present state of health care delivery by focusing on the concurrent trends of growth in managed care, expanding profits, increasing proportion of those uninsured, and widening racial, ethnic, and class disparities in access to care. Allowing market forces to dictate the shape of health care delivery in this country ensures that inequalities will continue to grow and modern medicine will become increasingly adept at managing inequality rather than managing (providing) care. The article challenges anthropology to become more involved in critiquing these developments and suggests how anthropologists can expand on and contextualize debates surrounding the market's role in medicine, here and abroad, [managed care, for-profit medicine, health care inequalities]

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