Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oops, Task 3 (part C): Health care reform as social justice

How does health care reform fit into a mixed market economy in terms of social justice?

Well, it will give people a more equal start. It will remove the "bad health" obstacle to success, to self-actualizing participation in the market economy. It will do so to greater or lesser extent depending on the effectiveness of the reforms in increasing health care access and quality.

Ultimately, a single-payer system (universal health care) would probably be best, as it would ensure equality between rich and poor, and thus be a better leveler of the playing field. However, chances are, in the grand scheme of things, that higher-end private health insurance would be only marginally better than a public option as far as guaranteeing a basic foothold in the social and economic world.

(thought on self-actualization: in a market-driven society, is it related to participation in the market? Can one be socially actualized if they can't participate equally in the agreed-upon mechanism of livelihood for a society?)

When it comes down to it, health care reform is a limp-wristed salute to the idea of social justice. Unless obstacles to full participation in the economic (and political) life of the nation are removed for individuals of all "groups," health care reform will not contribute much to social equality. Poor people may live longer, may be physically healthier, may feel a bit less marginalized, but on the whole they won't have a stronger voice nor greater access to genuine opportunity. If opportunities open up, then better health will be a factor in one's ability to pursue those opportunities. But that if is not at all pending on the success of the current health care reforms.

Marginalized peoples' voices have been strangely absent from the whole debate, overshadowed by the partisan bickering of senators and other elected officials and the intellectual sparring of economists.

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