Justice and health
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Instytut Filozofii Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego
Publication date: 2020-06-08
Problemy Polityki Społecznej 2001;3:73-81
The best explanation of the principle of solidarity is the biblical parable of Good Samaritan. Is it possible to apply the idea of Good Samaritan to health care policy? I think it is but we have to be aware of its conditions and limitations. If we assume that all people have equal right to health care, then ideally health care resources should be distributed to each person according to his or her needs. But in health care, demand always exceeds what is on offer. Our health care needs grow faster than objective possibilities of their fulfilment. The reasons for that are evident: (1) we live longer; (2) there is a growing number of diagnosed and treated diseases; and (3) technological progress in medicine provides more and more expensive methods of diagnosis and treatment. Whatever concept shall we use, shall we talk about ‘the normal opportunity range’, ‘core health services’, ‘health care minimum’, ‘health care services basket’, what is at issue is the definition of health and health care needs. How to define a health care minimum is a difficult moral and political problem for all the interested parties, i.e. patients, doctors, and the society al large. One may hope however that a compromise may be reached, as it is evident e.g. in Nordic health care systems. Some critical comments are made on for-profit health care institutions. It is claimed that egalitarian system of distribution of health care resources promotes health of the society.
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