Health Policy
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Health Policy

Choice, Equality and Cost

David Reisman

This lucid and comprehensive book explores the ways in which the State, the market and the citizen can collaborate to satisfy people’s health care needs. It argues that health care is not a commodity like any other. It asks if its unique properties mean that there is a role for social regulation and political management. Apples and oranges can be left to the buyers and the sellers. Health care may require an input from the consensus, the experts, the insurers, the politicians and the bureaucrats as well. David Reisman makes a fresh contribution to the debate. He argues that the three policy issues that are of primary importance are choice, equality and cost.
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Chapter 11: The right to health

David Reisman


The charters and the manifestos state that health care is an absolute right: ‘The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition … Governments have a responsibility for the health of their peoples’ (World Health Organization, 1962 [1946]: 1). The highest attainable standard is a fundamental right. Governments have a fundamental duty to raise up their citizens until they reach the bar. The subject of this chapter is the right to health. Divided into five sections headed ‘Natural rights’, ‘Citizenship rights’, ‘Maximin’, ‘Generosity and compassion’ and ‘The structural imperative’, it suggests reasons why consensus might converge on the perception that, in health at least, it is equitable to be more nearly alike. The commitment to levelling up may be derived from what it means to dwell within the ‘normal opportunity range’ (Daniels, 1985: 35) of the generic homo sapiens. It is in the nature of a human being that they should be able to move about, reason creatively and propagate their kind. It is in the nature of a human being that they should be able to forage for food, which in the market economy means holding a job. The full flowering of the human essence is more than the beating of the heart. A being is not a human being if they do not have an adequate set of the capacities and faculties that are the norm in their species.

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