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J Health Polit Policy Law. 1998 Aug;23(4):687-95.

Money and trust: relationships between patients, physicians, and health plans.

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University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, USA.


In response to three articles on managed care by Allen Buchanan, David Mechanic, and Ezekiel Emanual and Lee Goldman (this issue), I discuss doctor-patient and organization-member trust and the moral obligations of those relationships. Trust in managed care organizations (providers of and payers for health care) stands in stark contrast to the current contractual model of health insurance purchase, but is more coherent with consumer expectations and with the provider role of such organizations. Such trust is likely to differ from that between doctors and patients. Financial reimbursement systems for physicians, one example of organizational change in our health system, can be evaluated for their impact on both kinds of trust according to their intrusiveness, openness, and goals. Although involving managed care enrollees in value-laden decisions that affect them is commendable, restrictions on or regulation of physician incentive systems may be better accomplished on a national level.

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