Soc 120: Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility/Healthcare

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Our Right for Good Health

Jason Daniel Kowalczyk

SOC 120: Introduction to Ethics & Social Responsibility

Joe Niehaus

August 15, 2011

A doctor is familiar with something that many others may not be too familiar with, and that is the Hippocratic Oath. If you are to look at said oath, it says nothing about kickbacks from drug companies to push this new prescription. There is nothing about how expensive a treatment is, but what it does talk about caring for others in the Hippocratic Oath. It does specify what a doctor does as something that is done for the benefit of the sick. In 1964, Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, wrote a version of the oath that talks about how a doctor should care for the sick with compassion, humanely, and says nothing about working to get rich off of those who are suffering (Lasagna, 1964). In the United States, there should not be anyone who cannot see a doctor because they are poor; a doctor takes an oath to heal the sick wherever he can, not to heal the sick only if they are rich. If being alive is an inalienable right, as documented by the Declaration of Independence, would it not be common sense that healthcare would also be a right rather than a privilege? The United States is the only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not make sure that all of its citizens receive proper health coverage. In 2004 lack of coverage is estimated to have caused 18,000 deaths that have been considered unnecessary (, 2004). It is common knowledge that if a parent has an extremely ill child, and refuses to take that child to the doctor, the parent can be charged with neglect. If the child is the healthy one, and her single father is diagnosed with cancer, who will be charged with neglect when he dies for no other reason than he doesn’t have insurance?

Could you imagine being so desperate for health care that you were willing to commit a federal crime in the hopes of going to prison to get the care you need? Richard James Verone handed a teller in an RBC Bank in Gastonia, N.C. a note, claiming he had a gun but was unarmed (Moisse, 2011). Mr. Verone, who had a growth in his chest, two ruptured disks, and no job said that he asked for only one dollar. He wanted to show that his motives were medical, and not about the money (Moisse, 2011). The charge he was booked on was Larceny and would not give him the prison stay he hoped to get in order to get the treatment he desperately wanted. In a country as wealthy as the United States, why should any citizen even be tempted to do such a thing? It is terrible that a person who was law-abiding beforehand would have to become a criminal in order to save his life. Should health care be something that should only be available to the highest bidder? In 2005 the per-capita health care spending reached $6797, this is 40% higher than any other nation with health care outcomes ranking 37th according to the World Health Organization (Bybee, 2009). Between 2003 and 2007, the combined profits of the largest insurance companies rose by over 170%, which left their approval rating lower that tobacco companies. This was the resulted as worker’s out-of-pocket spending for health care shot into the atmosphere 87% since 2000 (Bybee, 2009). It is estimated that 47 million Americans lived without insurance before our economy fell apart and unemployment’s rise did nothing but add to those numbers (Bybee, 2009). It is estimated that half of all personal bankruptcies stem from drowning in the expenses of medical care, and in 76% of those cases, it was the main income that had insurance coverage for the family (Bybee, 2009). Could there really be a better example that something needs to be done than what Mr. Verone did just to get healthcare? Deontologists of ethics don’t look at the consequences of actions before coming up with an idea. One way they might see the healthcare debate could be...
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