The Misleading Language of Managed Care

University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform

Posted: 17 May 1999

See all articles by Jacob S. Hacker

Jacob S. Hacker

Harvard University - Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Theodore R. Marmor

Yale School of Management


The premise of this article is that the category "managed care", like many concepts now prominent in commentary about medical care, poses a barrier to credible analysis. A confused assemblage of market sloganeering, aspirational rhetoric, and business school jargon, the term "managed care" presupposes answers to central questions about contemporary health insurance and its evolution rather than helping to address those questions. The article first discusses the context in which managed care claims have arisen and outlines the diverse trends to which the category is regularly applied. We then suggest an alternative approach to characterizing these trends that breaks them down into their constituent elements -- managerial, financial, and organizational. Our core argument is that health policy research requires more neutral categories for making sense of past and projected developments in methods of reimbursement, techniques of management, organizational forms, and the distribution of risk.

JEL Classification: I11, I12, I18

Suggested Citation

Hacker, Jacob S. and Marmor, Theodore Richard, The Misleading Language of Managed Care. University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Available at SSRN:

Jacob S. Hacker

Harvard University - Faculty of Arts and Sciences ( email )

1875 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-2645 (Phone)

Theodore Richard Marmor (Contact Author)

Yale School of Management ( email )

135 Prospect Street
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-3238 (Phone)

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