Health Care: A Moral Value, A Necessity, An Ethical Dilemma

Fine editorial by a bioethicist James Drane: 

Those opposed to any change in the present U.S. health-care system claim that it is already the best in the world, therefore why change it. In fact, an assessment of all health-care systems by the World Health Organization ranks the U.S. system at 37th in the world, right ahead of Slovenia. Five different performance standards were used to measure health systems.


Although the term public welfare is not used in public discussion of health-care here in the U.S., it does belong, and it is not socialism. Public welfare, in fact, is a term found in the first sentence of the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1788. “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” One purpose of government, stated in the Constitution, is to promote the general welfare. It refers to the goods that all people need to be free and to enjoy prosperity.

And concludes:

In democracies, citizens are responsible for choosing the moral values of their societies. Voters create good societies through good laws and humane policies. When a large percentage of the population lives in abject poverty, when children die unnecessarily, when elderly persons suffer in isolation, when 46 million people have no health care, the common good is not being achieved and the general welfare is not being provided.

Medicynical Note:  Our democracy’ s approach to health care has it’s grotesque aspects;

  • Political parties (and politicians) selling themselves to highest bidder, an action sanctioned by the Supreme Court
  • Sanctioning “free” ER use as an alternative to a health care access for all citizens
  • Actually, over 50 million are uninsured (and rapidly rising)
  • Health Insurers who don’t want to insure those needing health care
  • Pharmaceutical suppliers gouging the sickest and most helpless in our culture

And so on. 

Our health care non-system is already viewed with incredulity in other industrialized nations.  They are amazed that the “leading nation of the world” would tolerate such an abomination.

To Obama’s great credit he’s taken the first faltering steps in leading towards a more rational humane universal health care system.  The question is whether we’ll evolve further into an efficient coherent economical system or de-evolve into a health disaster and a dead end.

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