Health, Health Care, and Equality of Opportunity: The Rationale for Universal Health Care

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 32 (1):26-33 (2023)
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Abstract

This article discusses what arguments best support universal health care (UHC), with a focus on Norman Daniels’ equality of opportunity account. This justification for UHC hinges on the assumption of a close relationship between health care and health. But in light of empirical research that suggests that health outcomes are shaped to a large extent by factors other than health care, such as income, education, housing, and working conditions, the question arises to what extent health care is really necessary to protect and promote health, and thereby opportunity. The author argues that, although this challenge to the equality of opportunity rationale is legitimate, it is not sufficiently specified to allow us to adequately assess the extent to which universal health succeeds in protecting equality of opportunity. The article concludes by outlining a more promising strategy for developing a viable rationale for UHC.

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