The liberty principle and universal health care

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 18 (2):pp. 149-172 (2008)

Abstract

A universal entitlement to health care can be grounded in the liberty principle. A detailed examination of Rawls's discussion of health care in Justice as Fairness shows that Rawls himself recognized that illness is a threat to the basic liberties, yet failed to recognize the implications of this fact for health resource allocation. The problem is that one cannot know how to allocate health care dollars until one knows which basic liberties one seeks to protect, and yet one cannot know which basic liberties to protect until one knows how health care dollars will be allocated. The solution is to design the list of basic liberties and the health care system in tandem so as to fit each other, such that every citizen is guaranteed a set of basic liberties and access to the health services needed to secure them.

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Ben Sachs
University of St. Andrews

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