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Universal healthcare can be defined as a healthcare system which employs a combination of health financing and service provisions to provide universal healthcare coverage to most members of a society. This definition of a universal healthcare is not binding. In fact, various definitions of universal healthcare do exist. The differences emanate from the fact that various universal health practices apply in different countries and the extent to which the system is put into practice does vary.
As at today, universal healthcare is being practised in all industrialized countries except the United States.
Since the German health insurance bill of 1883, which was part of Otto Von Bismark’s social legislation, universal healthcare has spread to many countries like the UK, Spain, and Italy. But the interpretation of the system varies in these countries. One common feature of the system in these countries though, is that their governments are actively involved in the functioning of the system.
Access to healthcare services in these countries derives from citizen rights rather than insurance coverage. The case in the United States is exactly the opposite.
In determining the morality of a universal healthcare, recourse can be made to Jeremy Bentham and James Mill ethical theory which states that “all action should be directed towards achieving greatest happiness for greatest number”. This theory is the theory of utilitarianism. How does this apply to the morality of a universal healthcare? In accepting morality as recognition of the desirability of good over bad, we can say that the greatest happiness for the greatest number represents good more than bad.
No matter the side of the debate one is, the truth remains that universal healthcare will primarily extend the provision of healthcare services to more less privileged citizens of the Unites States. In that case, it is moral. Universal healthcare is also an example of a common good. The aforementioned statement is open to debate though. But a common good need not be beneficial to all. This perfectly supports the argument in favour of a universal healthcare. There exist a segment of the population who vehemently oppose the promulgation of a universal healthcare.
Seeing no benefit for themselves, but since the majority will benefit, why do we not go ahead and introduce the system into our healthcare system? Even the scriptures support the existence of a universal healthcare. The scripture deifies the government as an arbitrary authority in matters of governance. If we practice democracy, then we should as well expect the leaders we voted for to promote our common good to care enough for our health. It is in the pursuance of such common good in the face of opposition that the biblical injunction becomes significant. A universal healthcare is thus moral.
It is the right of all Americans and it is the job of the government to support this right. Is social justice moral? Yes. And universal healthcare is just one example of it. Social justice expresses fairness. It gives individuals and groups fair treatment and a just share of benefits. Same thing that universal healthcare stands for!. But the ride is not all that smooth. Antagonists of this system have argued that introduction of the system will spur many unintended consequences. They employ this theory of double effect concluding that universal healthcare will lead to a forceful demand for services even when such are very much unreasonable.
The system, they say, will lead to avoidable court cases and that individuals might take no further interest in providing for their own health since they now have the right to demand for it anyway. The scripture has also been cited as teaching against the existence of such system as a universal healthcare system. It has been argued that the bible forbids the use of force in obtaining ‘things’ for ourselves. Universal healthcare is seen as such a ‘thing’ since the government will have to force all citizens and healthcare providers to comply.
Another theory that has been employed in the argument against a universal healthcare system is the theory of emotivism. Antagonists argue that the campaign for the introduction of a universal healthcare is based on feelings rather than reality. They insist that the fact that the majority have that feeling does not necessarily mean that the system is moral. They believe that the decision on whether the system is moral or not should be based on a measurement of realistic projections rather than hinged on a plethora of emotions.
The realistic projections, they say, will reveal that though universal healthcare might be beneficial to all, it is essentially immoral. Antagonists also argue that the introduction of the system will undermine the theory of ethical relativism. Ethical relativism dictates that what is right or wrong and good or bad is not absolute but variable and relative, depending on the person, circumstances, or social situation. Since universal healthcare is a mockery of the above concept, antagonists argue that it is immoral. Firstly, the theory of double effect does not really apply to universal healthcare.
No matter the nature of the unintended consequences, the merits of a universal healthcare far outweigh the demerits. All good things do have a side effect. The side effects are not necessarily akin to a double effect. To dismiss a system that will be so much beneficial to the majority on the basis of an inappropriate double effect is in essence immoral. It is also a known fact that nothing goes for nothing,. Double effect is not a substantial reason to damn a universal healthcare system. Definitely a price must be paid for everything that will be of benefit to the society at large.
Remember when there is no pain, there can’t be any gain. The theory of emotivism is also not strong enough to oppose the fact that a universal healthcare is moral. Antagonists argue that it is based on emotions instead of reality. This is not true. After all universal healthcare benefits the majority and this perfectly fits into the system of government (Democracy) and also supports Jeremy Bentham and James Mill ethical theory which states that “all action should be directed towards achieving greatest happiness for greatest number”.
Since it is the happiness of the majority what is being solicited for, then the issue of unnecessary emotions is definitely avoided. Although ethics vary from one culture to another and there is no universal standard that can conclusively differentiate between good or bad, a universal healthcare system still expresses the common good with one voice, even among different cultures. Every culture, tribe, and even religion believes that health is wealth. The concept of universal healthcare can be easily understood among people of different tribes and ethical backgrounds.
It is also true that the scriptures forbid the use of force. But the same scriptures vest an overriding authority in the government. The scriptures can be argued to understand that such issues as debates might arise especially when critical decisions that affect the common good must be made. In vesting such an authority in the government, the scriptures empower the government to make the right decisions no matter the stand of the opposition. This should not be interpreted as a use of force.
Rather, it should be understood as fulfilment of a scriptural injunction. The argument that a universal healthcare is a form of force is weak and is not what the scriptures teach. Sometimes arguments or debates do come easy, especially when the other side have a hard case to prove. That universal healthcare is immoral sounds like a hard case to prove. The preponderance of theoretical and practical evidence supporting the morality of universal healthcare are so abundant while the supporting arguments for its immorality are essentially weak.
The theories of utilitarianism, common good, social justice and scriptural teachings are strong enough concepts that cannot be dismissed with a wave of the hand. These supporting theories have been shown above to be strong pillars behind a universal healthcare system. If they do support the system, as has been shown, it seems to me the morality of universal healthcare system needs not be called to question again. It is time the united states dispel this fear of the unknown and introduce the system into our healthcare system.
That the system is already in use in other industrialized countries with astounding benefits to citizens should also inspire our government to do the right thing. We should not aim to be wrongly different, but rightly so. Universal healthcare also draws support from different segments of our society. The support spans across racial, professional, gender, political and age divides. Such a monumental support should not be dismissed for the comfort of the minority. Works Cited Universal healthcare. Wikipedia online encyclopaedia..
http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Universal_health_care. Definitions from www. answers. com Definitions from www. dictionary. com Doug Pibel, Sarah van Gelder. (Jul 19, 2006). Health Care: It’s What Ails Us. http://www. yesmagazine. org/issues/health-care-for-all/health-care-its-what-ails-us John R. Battista, M. D. and Justine McCabe, Ph. D. (june 4 1999). The Case For Single Payer, Universal Health Care For The United States. Outline of Talk Given To The Association of State Green Parties, Moodus, Connecticut on June 4, 1999.