Lying to insurance companies: The desire to deceive among physicians and the public

Rachel M. Werner, G. Caleb Alexander, Angela Fagerlin, Peter A. Ubel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


This study examines the public's and physicians' willingness to support deception of insurance companies in order to obtain necessary healthcare services and how this support varies based on perceptions of physicians' time pressures. Based on surveys of 700 prospective jurors and 1617 physicians, the public was more than twice as likely as physicians to sanction deception (26% versus 11%) and half as likely to believe that physicians have adequate time to appeal coverage decisions (22% versus 59%). The odds of public support for deception compared to that of physicians rose from 2.48 to 4.64 after controlling for differences in time perception. These findings highlight the ethical challenge facing physicians and patients in balancing patient advocacy with honesty in the setting of limited societal resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-59
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Bioethics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Deception
  • Doctor-patient relationship
  • Ethics
  • Insurance coverage
  • Managed care
  • Misrepresentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health Policy


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