Medicine and Social Justice: Essays on the Distribution of Health Care
Rosamond Rhodes, Anita Silvers (Editor), Margaret Pabst Battin (Editor)
Hardcover: 488 pages
Oxford University Press, USA
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This is primarily a book for ethicists or medical philosophers but also adequately informs policymakers that are grappling with social justice and its relationship to health care. Because medicine can preserve and restore health and function, it has been widely acknowledged as a basic good that a just society should provide its members. Yet there is wide disagreement over the scope of what is to be provided, to whom, how, when and why.
In this uniquely comprehensive book some of the best-known philosophers, doctors, lawyers, political scientists, and economists writing on the subject discuss the concerns and deepen our understanding of the theoretical and practical issues that run through the contemporary debate.
The first section lays a broad theoretical basis for understanding the concept of justice, particularly as it relates to the distribution of health care. The second section critically examines how medical care is distributed in different countries around the world and the particular advantages and injustices associated with those systems. The third section draws attention to the special needs of different social groups and the specific issues of justice that are raised by the impact of various policies on health care distribution. The concluding section delves into the dilemmas that confront those designing health care systems - the politics, the priorities, and the place of desires as opposed to needs in a socially just scheme.
Impressively, the editors have chosen an array of essays that explore the philosophical and bioethical foundations of distributive justice; review the current practice of rationing and patients’ access to care in a number of different countries; highlight the issues raised by various special needs groups; and then wrestle with some dilemmas in assessing priorities in distributing healthcare... Each essay is self-contained, so the book can be read in snatches or used easily as a resource when researching a specific question. When read from cover to cover, it offers an extremely broad survey of perspectives on the issue of healthcare access around the world. The essays do not follow any specific political perspective nor is a particular agenda apparent.
For the U.S. reader, the book offers no simplistic answers to solve the problems of our imperiled healthcare system. Nonetheless, the essay 'Unequal by Design: Health Care, Distributive Justice, and the American Political Process' provides a very interesting political analysis of our current quagmire. The essay 'Responsibility for Health Status' explicates beautifully a very important issue that confronts those designing any governmental health plan.
"This book is an excellent resource." - Doody Review Services, Laura L. Sessums, JD, MD, Walter Reed Army Medical Center
"Is health care a right? If so, what duties does this right confer on health care systems and on societies? Since an unlimited right to all services is unaffordable, even in the United States,... where, and by whom and what means, should the line be drawn? With more than 40 million U.S. citizens without health insurance, is the health care system in this country fundamentally immoral? When the medical director of a health maintenance organization or the chief executive officer of a hospital makes decisions about allocating resources, what is a fair, just, and defensible process? ...Most of the authors reside in the United States or the United Kingdom; more than half have appointments in departments of philosophy. Physicians and others interested in this field will find this book an engaging introduction to the theoretical and practical challenges pertaining to social justice and health care... The collection of essays in Medicine and Social Justice can serve as a fine primer for courses in bioethics and comparative health systems." - Lewis G. Sandy, M.D., Massachusetts Medical Society, The New England Journal of Medicine
Rosamond Rhodes is at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. Margaret P. Battin is at University of Utah.
(information from the publisher)
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