Ethics and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Affordable Care Act or ACA) also known as Obamacare is the federal statute of the United States allowed to function in the law by Barack Obama that focuses on providing better health care. Since the 1965 passage of Medicare and Medicaid, there were no significant attempts at reforming the existing health care system. Although the ACA provided broader coverage and overall improvement in the quality of the medical assistance, public reception of the law was mostly negative. The mandatory system of the insurance brought to question many other aspects of the reform. Therefore, a question arises – do the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act result in any significant ethical problems? If so, what are these problems? Studies in the field of reforms and medical care show that there are indeed several questions that concern ethics in the framework of ACA.

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Conflicts Between Ethics and Health Care

An article by Dagi (2017) focuses on some ethical problems regarding the Health Care reform. The author dwells upon the issues of accountability, finances, leadership, and others. The conclusion of the work is stating that, while some of the innovations brought to the health system by the ACA will affect medical practices in positive ways, other modifications may be much less efficient. According to the article, the question of ethics arises when one is considering whether the changes brought to medical practice by the ACA will result in “good” effects. Although the positive aspects of the reform lead to the enhanced performance of the health care system, it does not immediately mean that the outcomes will be better.

Another problem spotlighted in the paper is patient’s autonomy. The unexpected result of the ACA is the reduction of the patient’s ability to make decisions concerning the medical procedures. The ACA practically demands medical practitioners to decide what is right for their patients without concerning whether the patients agree or not. The problem of conscious decision-making raises a discussion of ethical problems in the health care community.

However, not only patients are suffering from losing their right to decide for themselves. The medical staff that is now working under the ACA may experience the same issue. According to Anderson (2014), workers with certain religious or moral agenda may find it hard to be protected from certain medical procedures that conflict with their beliefs. The author then proceeds to provide the reader with statistics on the acceptance of the right of conscience. 87 percent of the participants of interview are favoring the unforced nature of the medical practices regarding personnel, and 63 percent of US community actively supports the conscience right. Therefore, it is evident that both medical staff and the patients are limited in their right to make conscious decisions in the framework of the health care activity.


Although the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act are aimed at supporting the community, providing more qualified and organized health care, it also comes with certain significant shortages. Some of the shortages are connected to fewer opportunities for poorer people; others are conditioned by the nature of the ACA. The reformed health care procedures often present both patient and medical staff with a number of conscious decision-making limitations which results in the general discontent with the ACA.


Anderson, A. (2014). The impact of the Affordable Care Act on the health care workforce. The Heritage Foundation. Web.

Dagi, T. F. (2017). Seven ethical issues affecting neurosurgeons in the context of health care reform. Neurosurgery, 80(4), 83-91. Web.

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