Moral Health Care vs. “Universal Health Care”

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Moral Health Care vs. “Universal Health Care”

Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh

Although American scientists, doctors, and businessmen have produced the most advanced medical technology in the world, American health care is in a state of crisis. Technologically, we are surrounded by medical marvels: New “clot buster” drugs enable patients to survive heart attacks that once would have been fatal; new forms of “keyhole surgery” enable patients with appendicitis to be treated and discharged within twenty-four hours, whereas previously they would have spent a week in the hospital; advances in cancer treatment enabled bicyclist Lance Armstrong to beat a testicular cancer, which, had he lived fifty years ago, would have killed him; and so on.

From an economic perspective, however, such medical treatments are increasingly out of reach to many Americans. Health care costs, as reported by the New York Times, are rising twice as fast as inflation.1 And health insurance, as reported by USA Today, “is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many employers and working people.”2 A decreasing percentage of employers are offering health insurance benefits to their workers, and many of those who are offering benefits are requiring their employees to pay a greater percentage of the costs.3 The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2007 that nearly forty-seven million Americans had no health insurance, a sharp increase of ten million people from a mere fifteen years earlier.4 In short, there is a major disconnect between existing life-saving medical technology and the ability of Americans to afford it. This discord is affecting doctors as well. The American Medical Association warns physicians that, due to the lack of affordable health insurance, “more patients will delay treatment and . . . doctors will likely see more uncompensated care.”5 Hence, each year doctors are working harder and harder but making less and less money, resulting in a “critical level” of stress and burnout. According to a...