Can an Employer-based Health Insurance System Be Just?

Can an Employer-based Health Insurance System Be Just? It is America's distinctive practice to tie private health insurance to employment, and recent proposals have tried to retain this link through mandating that all employers provide health insurance to their employees. My primary approach to these issues is neither economic, nor historical, nor political but ethical. After a brief historical overview, I outline a general approach to evaluating the ethical significance of linking the distributions of distinct goods. I examine whether an unjust distribution of jobs spoils justice in the distribution of health insurance, taking as a central example gender inequities in employment and exploring their impact on job-based health insurance. Second, I explore the possibility that justly awarding jobs guarantees justice in employment-sponsored insurance. However, linking the distributions of different goods remains problematic, because such links inevitably undermine equality by enabling the same individuals to enjoy advantages in many different distributive areas. Finally, I examine recent proposals to reform America's health care system by requiring all employers to provide health insurance to their employees. I argue that such proposals lend themselves to the same ethical problems that the current system does and urge greater attention to alternative reform options. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law Duke University Press

Can an Employer-based Health Insurance System Be Just?

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Duke University Press
ISSN
0361-6878
eISSN
1527-1927
DOI
10.1215/03616878-18-3-657
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

It is America's distinctive practice to tie private health insurance to employment, and recent proposals have tried to retain this link through mandating that all employers provide health insurance to their employees. My primary approach to these issues is neither economic, nor historical, nor political but ethical. After a brief historical overview, I outline a general approach to evaluating the ethical significance of linking the distributions of distinct goods. I examine whether an unjust distribution of jobs spoils justice in the distribution of health insurance, taking as a central example gender inequities in employment and exploring their impact on job-based health insurance. Second, I explore the possibility that justly awarding jobs guarantees justice in employment-sponsored insurance. However, linking the distributions of different goods remains problematic, because such links inevitably undermine equality by enabling the same individuals to enjoy advantages in many different distributive areas. Finally, I examine recent proposals to reform America's health care system by requiring all employers to provide health insurance to their employees. I argue that such proposals lend themselves to the same ethical problems that the current system does and urge greater attention to alternative reform options.

Journal

Journal of Health Politics, Policy and LawDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 1993

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