Distributive Justice and the New Medicine

Distributive Justice and the New Medicine

George P. Smith II

The author begins by examining various economic constructs as aids for achieving a fair and equitable delivery of health care services. He then assesses their level of practical application and evaluates the costs and benefits to society of pursuing the development and use of the ‘New Medicine’. The book ends with a case study of organ and tissue transplantation that illustrates the implementation of distributive justice. The author concludes that as long as clinical medicine maintains its focus on healing and alleviating suffering among patients, a point of equilibrium will be reached that advances the common good.

Chapter 1: Introduction

George P. Smith II

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

Extract

1. Introduction Reports from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality released in 2006 showed— conclusively—that rising health care costs consume 16 percent of the nation’s economic output. In 1997, health care accounted for 13.6 percent of the gross domestic product. Health care costs are growing substantially faster than inflation and wages—increasing by almost 8 percent in 2004. Indeed, in 2004, the nation spent almost $140 billion more for health care than the year before. And, by 2016, it is expected that an annual increase of 5.3 percent will translate into a national expenditure of one dollar of every five dollars for health care, bringing the overall total close to $4 trillion in overall budget costs just for health maintenance.1 Sadly, as these costs escalate, many Americans—especially minorities and the poor— do not receive high quality of care.2 Medical providers, acting under constant pressure from insurance companies, who in turn are pressured from employers, are battling daily to find ways by which health care costs can be cut.3 The unraveling of health care services is driven by advances in medical technology which, in turn, have the effect of allowing physicians the luxury of simply spending more on patient care. This creates a domino effect because it leads to higher insurance costs which in turn push employers to cease providing coverage. The net result, then, is that significant numbers of citizens become uninsured and thus...