Denial of Treatment to Obese Patients - The Wrong Policy on Personal Responsibility for Health

International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 2013, 1(2), 107–110

4 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2013  

Nir Eyal

Harvard Medical School

Date Written: November 10, 2013

Abstract

In many countries around the world, including Iran, obesity is reaching epidemic proportions. Doctors have recently taken, or expressed support for, an extreme ‘personal responsibility for health’ policy against obesity: refusing services to obese patients. This policy may initially seem to improve patients’ incentives to fight obesity. But turning access to medical services into a benefit dependent on health improvement is a bad policy. It conditions the very aid that patients need in order to become healthier or success in becoming healthier. Whatever else we may think of personal responsibility for health policies, this particular one is absurd. Unfortunately, quite a few personal responsibility for health policies use similar absurd conditioning. They mistakenly use ‘carrots’ or ‘sticks’ for adherence the basic means to the same health outcomes that they seek to promote. This perspective proposes the following rule of thumb: any conditional incentive for healthy choice should be in a currency other than the basic means to that healthy choice.

Keywords: Obesity; Patient Compliance; Refusal to Treat; Health Promotion; Motivation

Suggested Citation

Eyal, Nir, Denial of Treatment to Obese Patients - The Wrong Policy on Personal Responsibility for Health (November 10, 2013). International Journal of Health Policy and Management, 2013, 1(2), 107–110. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2352339

Nir Eyal (Contact Author)

Harvard Medical School ( email )

250 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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