(1) The key idea that Norman Daniels advances on behalf of the claim that everyone is entitled to some measure of health-care coverage is that of opportunity. Daniels believes that a large part of society is maintaining normal functioning for individuals. By normal functioning Daniel means what is needed to maintain the norm of life in a society. Healthcare is needed in order to maintain this, and is a main reason behind Daniels support of equal opportunity health-care. Health-care maintains normal functioning by providing vaccination and disease prevention that preserves the normality of a generally contagion-free society. Daniels also believes that everyone of equal talent and ability should be able to have access to health-care of the same caliber, regardless of disease or pre-existing condition.
Daniels believes it to be a social injustice for a health-care system that requires a service to not provide it to certain individuals. Thus, Daniels supports an equal opportunity system of healthcare, which is similar in structure of discrimination prevention of race or gender in the workplace, “health-care rights in this view are thus a species of rights to equal opportunity” (Daniels 202). However, Daniel’s view is not completely egalitarian, as he explains how a multitiered health-care system is compatible with his idea of equal opportunity. The basic tier would provide a “decent basic minimum” (Daniels 202) for health-care, and would not restrict access to anyone based on financial, racial, or geographical reasons.
(2) Tristram Engelhardt’s main criticism against the claim that health-care should be covered in the same way that other basic services are covered in his article, “Freedom and Moral Diversity: The Moral Failures of Health Care in the Welfare State”, is that is morally intrusive. By having one health-care system encompassing every citizen, the question of what is covered by this system comes with it. Would the system cover abortion? Assisted-suicide? As to cater to the whole population, it would have to support all moral ideals, however many people would not want to be paying into a system that supports procedures and care against their beliefs, such as abortion or birth control. They would not want to pay into this because they would indirectly be paying for these things. The system certainly could not please everyone, and by merely having one system, freedoms would be restricted not only monetarily, but also morally.
(3) Engelhardt’s belief is that people’s health is mainly due to their own free choices. For example, Engelhardt believes a heavy-smoker is responsible for his or her own health-care costs in regard to smoking related health problems. Engelhardt supports this claim because this conscious decision to smoke would raise the cost of everyone’s healthcare, even though everyone would not need the care the smoker would.
Ichiro Kawachi, however, disagrees with Engelhardt’s belief that a person’s health is primarily due to his or her own free choices. In his article, “Why the United States is Not Number One in Health”, Ichiro believes there are other reasons for ill health, such as environmental factors like pollution, or advertising bad habits. He takes smoking as an example also; though he agrees that smoking is bad for someone’s health, he explains how 80% of adult smokers became addicted before the legal age of purchase, and most would agree that minors are unlikely to think about their future health and welfare when deciding to take that first cigarette.
Not only can many people not be completely blamed for their initial smoking and continuing addiction, but cigarette companies and their advertizing must be held responsible too, for pedaling their product to children and the poor. Kawachi believes that the main reason for a healthy country is the access to health-promoting social conditions, which is provided by the political process. Thus, the government should be held more responsible than Engelhardt believes because they are responsible for upholding and promoting healthy life styles.
(4) It seems to be a reasonable idea to subject companies that pollute the environment, or perhaps that promote bad habits, such as smoking, to civil suits and pay appropriate compensation for the harm caused. However, this would not solve the problem. Though a person who is diagnosed with throat cancer could put money they receive from a cigarette company to good use, this would not solve such problems for future victims. To truly solve the problem, it needs to be completely eliminated. For example, a factory that dumps chemicals into a river should not merely pay off people who became sick from the water. The effected party should act in order to get the factory to completely stop dumping chemicals in the river for good. Though this would certainly take more effort than taking a company to a civil suit for compensation, the result would be everlasting. The company would no longer contaminate the river, thus not causing people to fall ill.