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Is Free Healthcare Ethical?

By Naman 

Introduction

Bioethical Principals

Justice – Chronic diseases make up 90% of health care costs.7 The sickest 5% of the population create 50% of total health care costs, while the healthiest 50% only create 3% of costs. This means that healthy people would be required to pay higher taxes. This ties in with the bioethical principle of justice as it is an unjust allocation of resources.

Beneficence/Non-Maleficence – Paid healthcare is actually better for the patient. This is because “a lot more money goes to planning, regulating and managing medical services at the administrative level.” This results in better treatment for the patients. 

Perspectives 

People who want free healthcare argue that it lowers overall health care costs: The government controls the prices through negotiation and regulation, it lowers administrative costs: Doctors only deal with one government agency. For example, U.S. doctors spend four times as much as Canadians dealing with insurance companies. Finally, itForces hospitals and doctors to provide the same standard of service at a low cost: In a competitive environment like the United States, health care providers must also focus on profit. They do this by offering the newest technology. They offer expensive services and pay doctors more. They try to compete by targeting the wealthy. 

However, on the other hand, I believe that it is important to consider the ethical aspects, of both the healthcare workers, and the general population. Chronic diseases make up 90% of health care costs.7 The sickest 5% of the population create 50% of total health care costs, while the healthiest 50% only create 3% of costs. This means that healthy people would be required to pay higher taxes. This ties in with the bioethical principle of justice as it is an unjust allocation of resources. Additionally, while we often look at ethical principles from the side of the patient, it’s important to consider the doctors too. Economic systems would show that doctors will probably be paid less, and be forced to work more. This is simply just unfair.

Opinions (Bioethical and non-bioethical implications)

The main argument seems to be “tax the rich” however, I don’t see it as a good idea for a wide variety of reasons. 

  1. The rich set up more large scale businesses, which create jobs and help economically. 
  2. I don’t think it is ethical for one person to be forced into paying for another, especially if they have worked tirelessly to reach where they are. If someone wanted to pay for medical treatment for another person, I strongly believe that they should, however, they shouldn’t be forced to do so.
  3. Finally, from a bioethical standpoint, we can see that free healthcare doesn’t satisfy the principals of beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice.

What You Can Do 

Speak. Let the world hear what you have to say. Even if your ideas are different to that of mine, it’s important that they’re heard. Just don’t forget to consider all other perspectives. In the comments, let me know what your personal thoughts are!

Conclusion

On the surface level, it seems like free healthcare would be beneficial for people, however, as we dig deeper, we find out that it may not be as good an idea as it seems. While we often look at ethical principles from the side of the patient, it’s important to consider the doctors too. Economic systems would show that doctors will probably be paid less, and be forced to work more. This is simply just unfair. 

 

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Works Cited

   Lg. “17 Universal Health Care Pros and Cons.” Vittana.org, vittana.org/17-universal-health-care-pros-and-cons.
 
   Rachel. “11 Pros and Cons of Free Healthcare.” Honest Pros and Cons, 16 Mar. 2020, honestproscons.com/pros-and-cons-of-free-healthcare/.
 
   “What Is a Free Health Care Policy and How Can It Help Move towards UHC?” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 20 June 2017, www.who.int/health_financing/topics/free-health-care/whats-free-health-care/en/.
 
   “Which Countries Offer Free or Universal Health Care.” International Citizens Insurance, www.internationalinsurance.com/health/countries-free-healthcare.php.
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COMMENTS: 3
  1. April 24, 2020 by Brooke W

    You offer a lot of great information! I think this is a different side of health care that isn’t often considered. Nice work

  2. April 25, 2020 by Hannah G

    Hey Naman,

    I thought you presented a great ethical analysis on this topic! I have never really thought considered how free health care can create much controversy as it presents. I especially found your ethical perspective from the doctor’s point of view very fascinating. In my opinion, I do agree, from your work, that doctors as a result of this issue are not being paid fairly as a result of free health care. However, in saying that, in my opinion I would say that if doctors enjoyed their job and looking after others, they may not mind working extra hours, despite the imbalance of payment that comes with that. Overall though, your project was very interesting.

    Well done!

    Hannah.

  3. April 27, 2020 by Sophia Hurst

    Hi Naman! It’s Sophia from bioethics here! I was extremely intrigued by your topic choice as I am very interested in learning the intricacies of progressive policies. That being said, while medicare for all may be potentially worse for doctors, I am still curious as to how the proposal itself would affect patients – i.e. would it actually drive up premiums? Would it cause the economy to be in recession? Overall, you did a great job and were extremely thorough.

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