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    Basic Minimum or Adequate Healthcare

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    A mother brings her daughter into the emergency room during an asthma attack. Though both of her parents work, they cannot afford medical insurance for themselves or her. They also earn too much money to qualify for state or federal aid. She is treated with medication for her asthma attack at the hospital and she and her mother leave. Two weeks later, they return to the hospital in a virtually identical scenario.

    - Do you think that this girl is receiving adequate care?
    - Should she be able to see a primary-care physician before her condition gets so acute that she must visit the ER?
    - Should everyone be entitled to a basic minimum of health care or to the exact same health care?
    - Do you think that health care is a right? If so, is everyone forced to honor this right?
    - Is this right relative or universal?
    - Does this right exist because of the wealth of the United States, or is it applicable everywhere?
    - Is health care a luxury?
    - Does having money entitle a person to better health care?

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    Solution Preview

    The little girl in this case study is not receiving adequate care.

    While the onus of responsibility rests with her parents, clearly, and for whatever the reasons were the family were unaware of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which is a program funded and offered by the United States federal government in order to provide health insurance to families with children. The program started in 1997, and became the largest in terms of health insurance coverage for children in the U.S since the beginning of Medicaid in the 1960's. Additionally, the program was designed to cover uninsured children in families with incomes that are modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid, such as this little girl's family. In all her visits to the ER and the hospital, no one has taken the time out to inquire and probe enough so they could inform the family of this very necessary, life-altering provision they were eligible for.

    Should everyone be entitled to a basic minimum of health care or to the exact same health care?

    Yes, I believe everyone should be entitled to health care however skeletal the coverage is. This should be provided and made available to everyone. Not only would this alleviate the asthmatic sufferings the little girl in the case study endured, but in general we would have healthier individuals, live longer lives, and in essence save billions in health care dollars. Health care is a basic human right, and everyone should really not have to be forced, but should want to do this, should be obligated as it is the right and the moral thing to do. Therefore this right should be honored it is extricably linked to human dignity.

    The right to healthcare while it has not been mandated 'universal' should be. However, as it stands and using the United States as an example, apparently that is not the case and that would make it 'relative' or just a matter of preference?

    As a society there is a moral obligation to extend accessible health care to all citizens, regardless of the ability to pay. As such we should all be doing our part. Health care professionals, especially physicians should contribute their expertise at a policy-making level so as to help achieve this goal. In deciphering what procedures or treatments should be included in the basic yet adequate level of health care coverage, the American Medical Association (AMA) (1994) recommends the following ethical principles as guidance in the decision-making:
    - The degree of benefit (the difference in outcome between treatment and no treatment);
    - The likelihood of benefit;
    - The duration of benefit;
    - The cost, and ;
    - The number of people who will benefit. For example, a treatment may benefit the patient and others who come into contact with that patient, as the case is with vaccines and antimicrobial drugs (AMA, 1994).
    - The decision-making process, should be a democratic one with much wide, and open public input at all stages of the process;
    - Provisions to monitor and look for unexplainable variations in ...