HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Egalitarian Provision of Necessary Medical Treatment

Robert Hughes (The Wharton School), Egalitarian Provision of Necessary Medical Treatment, 24 J. of Ethics (2020):

Considerations of autonomy and independence, properly understood, support strictly egalitarian provision of necessary medical treatment. If the financially better-off can purchase access to necessary medical treatments that the financially less well-off cannot purchase without help, then their discretionary power to give or to withhold monetary gifts indirectly gives them the power to make life-and-death or sickness-and-health decisions for others. To prevent private citizens from having this objectionable form of power, government must ensure that citizens’ finances do not affect their access to medical treatments that significantly prolong life, relieve suffering, or cure or mitigate disabilities. Government should ensure this even if doing so involves leveling down and even if it is unclear whether egalitarian provision of necessary treatment would provide better care to the poor than a less egalitarian health care system would.

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