Luck Egalitarianism, Universal Health Care, and Non-Responsibility-Based Reasons for Responsibilization

Res Publica 21 (2):201-216 (2015)
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In recent literature, there has been much debate about whether and how luck egalitarianism, given its focus on personal responsibility, can justify universal health care. In this paper we argue that, whether or not this is so, and in fact whether or not egalitarianism should be sensitive to responsibility at all, the question of personal responsibilization for health is not settled. This is the case because whether or not individuals are responsible for their own health condition is not all that is relevant when considering whether we should somehow hold them responsible for their own health condition, e.g. cost-wise. There may also be efficiency-based reasons to hold them responsible, and there may even be egalitarian reasons. Defining universal health care as an insurance system where everyone’s deductible and premium is 0, we will argue that efficiency-based reasons for cost-responsibilization are not convincing, but that there are egalitarian reasons for cost-responsibilization. Luck egalitarianism, therefore, cannot, at least not on its own term, justify universal health care



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Morten Nielsen
University of Copenhagen