The health care system of the United States is one of the best in the world, yet there are some challenges it continuously discovers. Nowadays, many citizens struggle with overweight, lung deceases, liver problems, and most of these appeared mainly because of bad habits and lifestyles that are often consciously chosen by a patient. Curing people with such issues becomes a large part of health costs, and it might increase the price that everyone, regardless of their habits, pays for health insurance. This paper argues that the people who got ill because of their propensities, such as smoking, obesity, alcohol addiction, should pay more for health care insurance.
There are different points of view about the ethical part of the problem. It discusses the responsibility of each individual as well as the purposes of the health insurance payment system. Everyone can do their best to keep being healthy, yet they often gain bad habits knowing that they have insurance in case of any illness. To avoid the expansion of such an attitude, some new healthcare policies appeared, such as Consumer-Directed Health Care, which allows the management of the insurance costs and choices regarding treatment. It lets individuals choose and thus be responsible for making allocation decisions for limited resources instead of letting someone else decide (Axtell-Thompson, 2005). If such a policy applies, people will have to remember that they are responsible for their health, as well as for the prices of bad habits.
The principle of solidarity is actual for the health care system: people pay the same percentage of their income and get the same level of treatment regardless of the diagnosis’ cause. However, the rise of private medicine that counts an individual’s health only points to the ineffectiveness of solidarity. For example, mental health requires a more detailed treatment and diagnosis investigation, which often cannot be provided well in an average hospital. Boyle and Callahan (1995) state that “mental health care organizations already organize their protocols and care referrals; they spend time and money to properly judge the failure of previous treatments” (p. 8). People with mental diseases could get better treatment if the principle of equivalence worked for the health care system instead of the solidarity one.
The changes in the health care costs and payments system also can be used as motivation to stay healthy. People would think of their health before getting bad habits because it is more economically valuable for them to keep a higher level of health and fitness. Peterson claims that “we need to provide incentives for Americans to take better care of themselves; they should get to pay lower premiums for avoiding known lifestyle risks such as smoking and obesity” (as cited in Summary: Running on empty, p. 21). While individuals without any lifestyle risks would need to pay less, the payments for people with bad habits would look higher and would be used to provide everyone with an average level of health care.
Health care insurance that guarantees treatment for everyone partially causes the increasing number of people who suffer due to their unhealthy life choices. It is ethically correct to obligate such individuals to pay more for the insurance because it is also a kind of care and assistance for them. Once everyone is responsible for their choices, the number of adverse health decisions will decrease, and the health care system will be able to provide better treatment in general.
Axtell-Thompson, L. M. (2005). Consumer-directed health care: ethical limits to choice and responsibility. The Journal of medicine and philosophy, 30(2), 207–226. Web.
Boyle, P. J., & Callahan, D. (1995). Managed care in mental health: The ethical issues. Health Affairs, 14(3), 7–22. Web.
Summary: Running On Empty: Review and Analysis of Peter G. Peterson’s Book. (2017). BusinessNews Publishing.