Daniels on Healthcare

There has always been and will always be arguments surrounding the need for the more socialist style of healthcare. Healthcare where the discrepancies between wealth and education do not matter- the only priority is making someone better, no matter the cost. Norman Daniels argues for this equal opportunity rights. The backbone of his argument dictating that; disease and disabilities restrict a person’s range of opportunities, and healthcare’s job is to maintain the “normal” functioning of people so that they too can have access to all of life’s opportunities. He argues that prior education status or wealth should in no way affect this right to healthcare as it is the basis of our functioning society.

Arguments arise surrounding this topic. Questions such as; too what extent should “free treatments,” be given out to people? From Daniels argument, it can be said that any issues considered to affect someone’s range of opportunities should be treated fairly with healthcare; however, assessing what affects this is difficult. How much treatment is too much? How much is too little? It is entirely subjective. Being from the UK this is an area of significant interest for me. In the UK, we have the NHS, considered as the first real socialist form of healthcare. From an outsider’s perspective, it seems excellent and fair for all, but under the shell, it is the cause for numerous issues. If you spoke to a Briton, most would say that the NHS is dying and is an awful system, altogether. There is a lack of care in all aspects. The NHS is spending large quantities of its budget on the treatment of just a few diseases, those relating to; smoking; obesity and type 2 diabetes. These three alone consuming around 85% of the NHS budget. Now, as a patient in the system, these lack of funds show in the quality of the hospitals (most are relatively small and look not far off a prison. Nothing compared to Emory.) As well as, in the wait times (at minimum 2 hours) and even in the parking (costing not far off $10 an hour). The whole experience of healthcare is awful. Not only as patients but also as doctors because this lack of money finds its way to them, most getting paid just over minimum wage to work long and tiring shifts. Everyone in the NHS system is overworked on the whole. So, from afar healthcare for everyone seems fair and just, however, once put into reality, some may argue it worsens care as a whole. In theory, it works, in practicality maybe not so much.

Now Daniels does make some arguments surrounding what he deems to be a limit on “necessary treatment.” Using his principle that healthcare’s job is to improve a person’s functionality and allow them to have fair opportunities to everyone else- Daniels claims that anything outside of this does not warrant healthcare. An example of this being plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery. These surgeries are there to enhance your appearance only and that by doing them it does not improve your equal opportunity rights. They do not enhance or improve functionality or ability. It is in areas such as this that Daniels draws his line. Healthcare, according to him, has one purpose, keep people functioning at the best they can so that they too can have equal opportunities.

Daniels does present a well-argued view on healthcare and the need for it. He presents a good argument as to what is considered “necessary treatment,” and what should be covered under healthcare. However, looking at a first-hand example of healthcare, it is easy to see where cracks begin to open in his argument and the practicalities of a healthcare system. Questions indeed arise in the UK and my family in terms of the weighing of costs vs quality of care. Is free healthcare worth it despite the quality of care being poor? Is it worth just paying for private healthcare which gives faster results and better overall care? These are questions I am thankful enough to ask due to my position and ability to answer them; however, for some, these questions can never be answered as they cannot afford private healthcare. Healthcare as a topic is complicated, and there is no single solution. However, using Daniels theories, it is easier to quantify what treatments fall under the healthcare bracket of care.

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