The case study report aims at providing an insight into Medibank Health Insurance found in the year 1976 and known for insuring over 3.8 million Australians (medibank.com.au, 2018). It represented a telehealth service supplier with over 600 clinicians interacting over 2.5 million times in a year with consumers over either phone, web and face to face. The government of Australia privatized the Medibank in the year 2014 that presently operates as listed company on ASX. It now has over 2700 employees and generates annual revenue of AUD$ 6.37 billion. The case study will demonstrate understanding of the organizational theory including organizational ethics and ethical practice.
Rationale for Research Methodology
While formulating the rationale for the research methodology it is necessary to consider the methods that would help in understanding and answering the research questions. As the case study demonstrate understanding of organizational theory related to ethics and ethical practice of the organization so a deductive approach is followed. A deductive approach represents the development of hypothesis based on the existing theories and practice (Sekaran & Bougie, 2016). It is followed by designing of research strategy for testing the hypothesis.
The existing theories of organizational ethics are as follows:
Utilitarian or Rule Based Ethical Theory: This theory had its formulation in the eighteenth century by Jeremy Bentham refined later by John Stuart Mill. This theory looks beyond the self-interest for impartially considering the interest of all individuals affected by action. The emphasis of the theory lies in determining the consequences of a particular action on stakeholders. The stakeholders represent parties affected by outcome of action (Mulgan, 2014). This theory puts forward that the trade off exists in the aspects of decision-making. Therefore, Utilitarian theory remains mostly concerned with decision-making that maximizes the net benefits and minimizes the overall harm caused to the stakeholders. It holds similarity with the cost benefit analysis of the decision making process.
Ethical Theory Based on Virtue: The ancient Greek philosophers, Aristotle and Plato, put the virtue theory forward. In this theory, the exercising of judgment do not take place through set of rules but due to the possession of the virtues or the dispositions that enables the making of choices and holding the desires of something instead of the aspects that will provide a means for achieving the goal. Virtue based ethics emphasizes qualities that ensures defining the appropriate behavior and action that needs to be taken (Crossan, Mazutis & Seijts, 2013). Unlike other standard theories, virtue theory does not establish criteria for evaluation of the potential decisions instead the emphasis is more on the internal characteristics of the individual with whom one can enter into relationship of trust.
Ethical Theory Based on Rights: The right based theory of ethics dates back to seventeenth century. The modernized rights theory however remains associated with the Immanuel Kant, a philosopher belonging to the eighteenth century. The theory puts forward that certain entitlements of individuals such as right of privacy and freedom of speech must be respected (Broad, 2014). This theory establishes the duty of the individual as moral agents towards others who possess specific rights. It depends on the moral principles referred as categorical imperative that emphasizes on the universality of the moral actions.
Alternative theories of ethics are as follows:
Pluralism: Here the theories reject the single standard of the right conduct put forward by utilitarianism (Graham et al., 2013). According to this, morality remains defined by more than a single standard that is not consistent.
Theories of Social Justice: These theories reject the refusal of utilitarianism for considering who remained harmed or benefited. The theories put forward suggestions that sacrificing happiness for ensuring just distribution (Mason, 2018). The theories differ in showing concern about what the larger institutions and government should do instead of what the doings of the individuals.
The basic principles of the ethical practice should include (Elwyn, Tilburt & Montori, 2013):
- Consent that are informed
- No compulsion for participation of the individuals
- Generating respect for individual autonomy
- Avoiding causing any harm
- Maintenance of confidentiality and anonymity
- Undertake special care for research with the vulnerable groups
Appropriate Research Strategies
The report puts forward a case study so that the research strategies focus on the in-depth investigation of a single organization. For a case study, research information is derived from varied sources and through varied types of data related to, survey, observations analysis of documents and interviews. Data in this particular case is qualitative. Nevertheless a case study research allows for multifaceted and a composite investigation of the problem or the issue.
In this case, the strategies lies in testing the hypothesis derived from the rationale for research methodology. This is as follows:
H0: The ethics and principles of the healthcare organization do not align with existing theories of ethics.
H1: The ethics and principles of the organizations aligns with the existing ethics
The report mentions existing theories of organizational ethics and ethical culture. The strategies adopted involves investigation through secondary research and interviews that helps in establishing whether the ethical policies or code of conduct of Medibank Health Insurance’ aligns with the existing ethical theory or they do not align with it.
Critical Analysis of Role of Ethics and Ethical Practice in MediBank Heath Insurance
According to Jayasundara (2014), being ethical does not hold the same impact as following the law. A law is formed by integrating the ethical standards and is pledged by most citizens. Like feelings, laws can follow a deviation from what seems ethical. The concept of ethics and morality holds a close relation. Ethics represents the philosophy of morality and primarily deals with the right and the wrong behavior. Therefore, ethics describes and refers to standards of right and wrong that prescribes what the human beings happens to do in terms of the benefits to the rights and the society and obligations. In other words, ethics represents a system of governing human behavior.
In this regard, it can be said that Medibank Health Insurance complies to not only legal obligations but also acts responsibly and ethically. The Code of Conduct followed by the organization not only puts forward the practical principles but also ensures the minimum standards of conduct and behavior expected while undertaking an interaction within Medibank as well as the external parties(medibank.com.au, 2017). The code of conduct of Medibank Health Insurance set obligations in context of:
- Health, wellbeing and Safety
- Law, policy and standards
- Trust, transparency and accountability
- Anti bribery and Gifts
- Conflict of the interest
- Protection of the assets
- Confidentiality and Privacy
- Responsibility towards shareholders and the financial community
The code of ethics therefore ensures the minimum expectations from the conduct and the behavior. As organization, Medibank Health Insurance, remains committed to being compliant with the legal obligations but also act in an ethical and responsible manner (medibank.com.au, 2018). The firm integrates each of the code of ethics within its operation.
Prainsack and Buyx (2014) however stated that development of a good ethical healthcare policy is quite a challenge in best of times. In most of the developed societies healthcare remains organized with the structurally complicated systems that are politically charged. Although the mixing of the private and public providers and funders can prove to be advantageous in context of improving patient care and innovation in the medical treatment but the presence of the imperfect market not only makes decision making challenging but diminishes effectiveness thereby lowering the ethical standards and practice. The factors such as the ageing population and trend towards the personalization of the medicine lead to the steady rise in the demand and cost of the healthcare across all the healthcare system across the world. The move calls for the need of following an ethical standard through fair rationing across all countries.
In this regard, it is said that Medibank Health Insurance tries to foster relationships based on the trust and the mutual respect. The organization also remains transparent and accountable in dealing with the customers, colleagues and the stakeholders (medibank.com.au, 2017). The organization ensures safety, well being and health with the objective of preventing illness and injury. The Medibank Health Insurance remains committed to maintaining and supporting a productive and healthy workplace and thereby promoting the psychological and physical well being of every individual. Thus, the organization sets the ethical standards where individuals needs to abide by the following ethical standards. This involves:
- Employees must ensure dealings with one another and the customers, clients, suppliers and the other members of the public are not only free from harassment and bullying but victimization and discrimination.
- Employees should follow conduct and behavior that remains in accordance with the expectations of the organization in terms of alcohol use, tobacco and drugs in the workplace.
- Employees should perform in a manner and in accordance where the health, safety and the wellbeing procedures and policies that remains applicable to the role
- The staffs should ensure safe behaviors and take reasonable care for their own safety and health and that of the others.
- Should report all kinds of hazards and incidents within the work place and ensure safety of the others.
The Medibank Health Insurance conducts its activities not only ethically but also with integrity. Thus, the organization fosters relationship based on the respect and trust and holds accountability and transparency in the dealings with the customers, colleagues and the stakeholders (medibankhealth.com.au, 2018). The organization ensures trust, accountability and transparency by ensuring the following ethical standards and practices for its employees. This involves:
- It involves acting honestly in the best interest and the good faith of the organization
- It involves displaying professionalism, skill, diligence and care in the duties undertaken
- It involves coming to work in proper attire
- It involves treating the customers, colleagues, other members and suppliers with respect and courtesy
- It involves respecting the individual differences and diversity
- It is necessary to pay respect to Medibank’s property and that of the others
- It involves complying with lawful and reasonable instructions either put forward by a leader o an authorized person
- Avoiding all sort of false representations in connection with employment
- It ensures that the employees do not take an undue advantage of the position or use any information for the personal gain or that seems detrimental to the Medibank or the customers.
- Employees should provide information about services put forward by the company provided they are trained and authorized by the organization
- It is also necessary to use the social media responsibly and ethically and remain fair with the dealings of the competitors.
- It also ensures that the employees does not engage in either an anti-competitive conduct or behavior and should not discuss and exchange marketing or pricing information with the competitors.
Role and Legitimacy of Management and Influence by Politics and Social Environment
The Board ensures an overall guidance for Medibank Health Insurance along with overseeing the management (medibank.com.au, 2018). The Board monitors the financial positioning and operational performance of the organization and oversees the business strategies and approved strategic goals. However, in performing the role, the board remains committed in ensuring appropriate corporate governance practice. The chief executive officer holds the responsibility of managing the daily operations of Medibank. He is association with the executive leadership team manages the company based on the approved corporate plan, corporate policies and strategies and risk appetite set by Board.
The key management functions include:
- Succession planning and review resulting in the appointment of the newer executive directors
- Overseeing the recruitment of the senior executives
- Determining the strategy, budget, corporate plan and the performance targets
- Overseeing the business performance
- Evaluation of the growth options for expansion into the Healthcare Service business
- Monitoring of the full and half yearly financial results
- Reviewing and updating the framework for strategic risk and ensuring the alignment with standards put forward by Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).
- Over sighting the crucial projects that included an embedding project and an IT project
- Enhancing customer engagement, proposition and experience
- Over sighting major litigation and matters related to regulatory compliance
The challenges include:
The challenges put forward by the political and social environment included inappropriate utilization and attendance, unplanned re-submission within hospitals, risk factors related to lifestyle, chronic disease and a rising number of complex patients with numerous morbidities. These pressures remain compounded by the community expectations that the government continuously provides through an equitable access of the health service (medibank.com.au, 2018). Medibank Healthcare with a wide range of innovative service ensures healthcare alternatives and helps in reducing the demand for the related healthcare service
On a concluding note, it can be said that Medibank Health Insurance puts forward a wide range of insurance services to the business, government and public across not only Australia but also New Zealand. The organization has a dedicated team of the health professionals who delivers over three million healthcare interactions in a year. Besides, the governance framework of Medibank Health Insurance represents a culture based on the ethical behavior designed in accordance with key values of the company. These values not only guide the employees but also the business partners, customers, governments and the wider community.
Broad, C. D. (2014). Five types of ethical theory. Routledge.
Crossan, M., Mazutis, D., & Seijts, G. (2013). In search of virtue: The role of virtues, values and character strengths in ethical decision making. Journal of Business Ethics, 113(4), 567-581.
Elwyn, G., Tilburt, J., & Montori, V. (2013). The ethical imperative for shared decision-making. European Journal for Person Centered Healthcare, 1(1), 129-131.
Graham, J., Haidt, J., Koleva, S., Motyl, M., Iyer, R., Wojcik, S. P., & Ditto, P. H. (2013). Moral foundations theory: The pragmatic validity of moral pluralism. In Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 47, pp. 55-130). Academic Press.
Jayasundara, C. (2014). Ethical Issues Surrounding the use of Information In Health Care. Malaysian Journal of Library & Information Science, 9(1), pp.69-80.
Mason, D. (2018). Social justice and political change: Public opinion in capitalist and post-communist states. Routledge.
medibank.com.au. (2017). Medibank Code of Conduct [Ebook]. Retrieved from https://www.medibank.com.au/content/dam/medibank/About-Us/pdfs/Corporate%20governance/Medibank%20Code%20of%20Conduct.pdf
medibank.com.au. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.medibank.com.au/about/corporate-responsibility/community-fund/
medibank.com.au. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.medibank.com.au/content/dam/medibank/About-Us/pdfs/Medibank%20CGS17_FINAL.pdf
medibank.com.au. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.medibank.com.au/client/documents/pdfs/mpl_annual_report_2013.pdf
medibank.com.au. 2018. Retrieved from https://www.medibank.com.au/
medibankhealth.com.au. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.medibankhealth.com.au/files/editor_upload/File/documents/mhs5271_Gov_brochure_A
Mulgan, T. (2014). Understanding utilitarianism. Routledge.
Prainsack, B., & Buyx, A. (2014). Ethics of Healthcare Policy and the Concept of Solidarity. Healthcare Policy And The Equality Gap, 650-654.
Sekaran, U., & Bougie, R. (2016). Research methods for business: A skill building approach. John Wiley & Sons.