How Managed Care Allocates Resources: An Analysis of Ethical Issues

Study of resource allocation by managed care organizations

From 1995 to 1996, researchers at the Hastings Center, a nonprofit bioethics research institute located in Garrison, N.Y., used applied research to examine the ethical questions involved with resource allocation by managed care organizations.

The grantee consulted with experts and clinicians to analyze ethical issues surrounding the changes in medical practice brought on by the shift toward managed care. A principal question was the method of resource allocation employed by managed care organizations attempting to cut costs.

Key Findings

  • The main issue affecting resource allocation emerges from the industry-wide shift from medical professionalism to managerial professionalism.

  • Most of the moral analysis being undertaken today, as well as the practical responses—through legislation and other means—do not accurately or adequately analyze the moral problems associated with resource allocation in managed care.