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Am J Manag Care. 2004 Sep;10 Spec No:SP45-53.

Distributive justice in American healthcare: institutions, power, and the equitable care of patients.

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1
University of Washington School of Medicine, Cross Cultural Health Care Program, Seattle, WA 98134, USA. bobp@xculture.org

Abstract

The authors argue that the American healthcare system has developed in a fashion that permits and may support ongoing, widespread inequities based on poverty, race, gender, and ethnicity. Institutional structures also contribute to this problem. Analysis is based on (1) discussions of a group of experts convened by the Office of Minority Health, US Department of Health and Human Services at a conference to address healthcare disparities; and (2) review of documentation and scientific literature focused on health, health-related news, language, healthcare financing, and the law. Institutional factors contributing to inequity include the cost and financing of American healthcare, healthcare insurance principles such as mutual aid versus actuarial fairness, and institutional power. Additional causes for inequity are bias in decision making by healthcare practitioners, clinical training environments linked to abuse of patients and coworkers, healthcare provider ethnicity, and politics. Recommendations include establishment of core attributes of trust, relationship and advocacy in health systems; universal healthcare; and insurance systems based on mutual aid. In addition, monitoring of equity in health services and the development of a set of ethical principles to guide systems change and rule setting would provide a foundation for distributive justice in healthcare. Additionally, training centers should model the behaviors they seek to foster and be accountable to the communities they serve.

PMID:
15481436
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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