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The economic behaviour of doctors: medical altruism without an ethic?

Philippe Batifoulier () and Nicolas Da Silva ()

No 2014-9, EconomiX Working Papers from University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX

Abstract: Health economics appears to have difficulty in taking medical ethics into consideration because of the standard figure of homo economicus. In main stream economics, the ethical attitude of a physician is then formalized in terms of “medical altruism”. This paper seeks to highlight the advantages and the contradictions of this medical altruism. We can identify several levels of problems raised by this medical altruism: theoretical paradoxes and economic policy problems for the regulator. The interest of the concept of medical altruism is to save or improve the economic theory with a more realistic assumption. However, if this assumption is more realistic, it induces paradoxes of economic theory. The misfortune for economists is that this theoretical inconstancy is lined with economic policy issues. These remain unresolved and we do not know what to do. In conclusion, we think that it becomes crucial to consider seriously medical ethics.

Keywords: healthcare; altruism, professional ethics; instrumental rationality; intrinsic motivation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B41 I10 I18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cbe, nep-hea, nep-hme and nep-hpe
Date: 2014
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