A Right to Healthcare in a time of Reform .
Debates about justice and fair allocation have implications for the idea of a right to healthcare. In this context a “right” is understood as an entitlement to some measure of health care; rights are contrasted with privileges, ideals, and acts of charity. We study (4) philosophers who have debated this issue for sometime and the pros and cons as to the right of healthcare. PROS:
(Daniels) A right to healthcare with some basic or decent minimum level of treatment and care. This care is essential only for normal functioning and does not prevent people from utilizing their own resources for additional services. Proponents of a right of this description assert that each person should have equal access to an adequate (though no maximal) level or “tier” of health care for all available types of services. The distribution proceeds on the basis of need and needs are met by fair access to adequate services. Better services, such as luxury hospital rooms and expensive but optional dental work, can then be made available for purchase at personal expense by those who are able to and wish to do so. Everyone gets some essential services or deserves the same services. Furthermore, there should be some sort of active support in government.
(Veatch) Defends a right even stronger than the right to a decent minimum. He proposes the distribution of health care based on the individual’s health care needs using the yardstick of an “equal right to health care.” A right to healthcare where all services are equal. No inequality based on ability to pay. Equality or nothing. Assures equal outcomes with no ability to utilize own resources. Daniels and Veatch support the right to healthcare with a small differing of equality. Veatch defends a right even stronger than the right to a decent minimum. He proposes the distribution of healthcare based on the individual’s health care needs using “equal right to healthcare”. CONS:
(Buchanan) argues that we have no right to this decent minimum to care as Daniels points out, but that there is nonetheless a social obligation to provide this level of care to the needy.
(Engelhardt) Concludes that there is no right or social obligation although a society may freely choose to enact such a policy. From Engelhardt and Buchanan’s perspective, if needs are unfortunate they may be improved by benevolence or compassion, but only if they are unfair does the obligation of justice justify compensation to the disadvantaged by using state force to tax and redistribute resources. BACKGROUND:
The legal situation in the United States, by contrast, involves entitlements for a few, but not for most. In 1965 Congress created Medicare to provide coverage for health care costs in populations that could not afford adequate coverage, especially the elderly. Medicare conferred a right to healthcare on the particularly vulnerable population and thereby stimulated discussion of whether all citizens have, or at least should have, a right to health care under similar conditions of need. There is no legal basis to support entitlements to health care in the United States, but this fact does not means there is no moral basis. There are several obstacles that stand in the way of a more efficient, fair, and comprehensive system of access to healthcare in the United States. STATISTICS:
Roughly 40 million U.S. citizens (including 8.5 million children, or approximately 14% of the total population), annually lack all health care insurance, largely because of the high cost of health insurance and a system in which access is generally obtained through an employer-based health plan. (Roughly 64 percent of the U.S. population is covered by a health plan related to employment). 14% of the GNP (gross national product) is spent annually for health care in the United States, the poor and the uninsured often cannot afford or find access to even minimally adequate care. Even...
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