Health Care and Public Policy

Health Care and Public Policy

David Reisman

Health Care and Public Policy is a comprehensive and intelligible cross-disciplinary account of the objectives of health care policy (medical, social, economic) and of the policy-tools that government can employ (cost–benefit analysis, entry barriers, competition) in order to ensure that scarce resources are not wasted nor needy social groups deprived of basic and affordable care.

Chapter 8: Equity and Equality

David Reisman

Subjects: economics and finance, health policy and economics, politics and public policy, public policy, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy, health policy and economics


Equity means fairness. It means that the entitlements are as they ought to be. It means that each member of society is getting his just deserts. Fairness can refer to the starting point. Here each entrant is known to enjoy the appropriate opportunities when the starting gun goes off. Fairness can refer to the race. In this case each runner is seen to be treated properly within the accepted guidelines of the rules. Fairness, finally, can refer to the finish. Fairness at the end of the game means that each player receives the prize that he deserves and that no one is getting less nor more. Fairness is a moral absolute. It is a correct procedure or a just outcome. In that sense it is different from equality, which is a statement of fact. Jill is precisely as tall as Jack. Tom is precisely as fat as Dick. There is no normative suggestion that they ought to be the standard size. Equality is measuring up. And that is all. This chapter is concerned with equity. Yet it is concerned with equality as well. The reason is that, rightly or wrongly, equity is often the moral principle that is invoked to make equality a desired objective and not just a dispassionate yardstick. Many people attach normative significance to a levelling of interpersonal distance. Many people say that in core areas of social life it is proper for the disparities to be kept within manageable limits. Many people are at one with...

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