The Need for a Minimum Amount of Healthcare

The debate about the best ways to make healthcare both accessible and fair impacts our modern political, legislative, and judicial systems constantly. The Affordable Care Act has been a political hot topic for years now, forcing the question of who is entitled to what type of healthcare to be regularly brought up. In an effort to answer this, Norman Daniels proposes the idea that individuals do have a right to healthcare, which he justifies using John Rawls’ argument of the right to “fair equality of opportunity”. Rawls’ theory states everyone is entitled to have an equal chance to obtain the “basic goods” of society, and Daniels argues that healthcare must be considered one of these. Without strong and easily accessible healthcare systems, individuals are not able to achieve their normal functioning, blocking them from using societal resources to become their healthiest selves. 

Though Daniels does argue that healthcare is a moral right, he also highlights various problems that could arise during distribution. With technology constantly changing and becoming more expensive, guaranteeing absolute equality in healthcare access is simply not economically feasible. The innovative technology must be utilized by some, though, and it is hard to decide who should and should not use it. Daniels does state that individuals with diseases or disabilities that seriously impair their opportunities should be given priority, which could be seen as a small solution. Justifying unequal access to treatments and technologies is still challenging, though, but requiring a right to a minimum amount of healthcare could help remedy this issue. I argue that all individuals should be entitled to a yearly physical, some preventative treatments, and medical testing. This would cover basic healthcare needs, allowing people to better function and improve their personal welfare. A minimum amount of healthcare would help individuals not constantly stress about how they are going to pay for their treatments or debate if going to the hospital is worth the astronomical cost. Without the stress of making payments, individuals’ mental health would improve as well, allowing them to further flourish. If there were clear guidelines created about what constitutes the minimum amount of healthcare, there would be no need for more debates and legal battles about the topic. Politicians and lawmakers could focus their energy on other issues, leading to an overall improved society.

One thought on “The Need for a Minimum Amount of Healthcare

  1. J. Raymond

    In her post, Jess Ferguson analyzes Daniels’ argument for the right to healthcare. She does an excellent job of summarizing Daniels central argument, which is the right to healthcare is an extension of Rawls’ right to fair and equal opportunity. While individuals do not have the right to have all their health-care needs met, they do have the right to access care that would protect their normal functioning. For instance, one is not entitled to free plastic surgery, but they are entitled to emergency services. Thus, Daniels’ extrapolation of Rawls theory essentially guarantees a minimum amount of care for patients to achieve their healthiest, normal function self.

    However, I feel Jess touches on a major contradiction in Daniels’ argument. Jess restates Daniels’ assumption that as technology advances it becomes more expensive, thereby making the guarantee of equal healthcare unfeasible. Here, Daniels implies that, if patients cannot access these new forms of treatment, then what is the point of researching them anyway. Daniel, therefore, concludes that the high cost of researching new treatments negates the benefit of a potential cure. Obviously, there are examples of treatments that started with a high cost that are generally cheap today, such as Insulin. Globally considered a basic, cheap treatment for diabetics, under Daniels’ conclusion, the investment into researching Insulin would not be considered tenable given the high cost and benefit to a minority of the population. Thus, while Daniels would likely argue that Insulin is a basic element of healthcare for Diabetics and therefore a right, his own logic would stall the research allowing it to become integral to care. Ultimately, I don’t disagree with Daniels’ extension of Rawls’ theory to include healthcare. However, I feel he needs to clarify his argument and not include a cost/benefit lens as it would stall general healthcare benefits. As a result, I wonder what new parameters Daniel would possible use to extend Rawl’ Theory.


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