The Price of Life
Synopsis The vast majority of Americans agree that drastic measures must be taken to reform health care to serve all citizens equitably and effectively. And many also agree to increased funding for greater access to new technologies and health services. But beneath partisan programmes for change, what are the practical limits to any health care policy? Does more medical care mean a better quality of life? What does a life cost? Robert H. Blank goes outside the current debate about who pays for medical care to illuminate the fundamental social, economic and cultural dimensions to health in American society. Offering a concise, critical summary of the major proposals for reorganizing health care delivery, Blank demonstrates that America's inability to ensure quality health care for all of its citizens is caused in large measure by deep social and moral divides: there is little or no consensus on the role of individual responsibility for health, on the definition of health - or on the value of life itself. "The Price of Life" shifts the discussion to issues that have been overlooked in the debates about payment plans and procedures. How can America become a healthy nation, Blank asks, when it is betset by poverty, illiteracy and crime? No new health care system can succeed unless or until the links between social problems and sickness are understood - and addressed. On the national level, Blank calls for a more aggressive redistribution of resources to the poor and elderly; at the same time, he describes sanctions that would encourage individuals to be more careful about their own health, and limit or change destructive behaviour. Only a major shift in perspective can unblock the health care reform logjam - from individual medical solutions to national programmes to reduce social and economic inequities that are the source of so much illness. This powerfully argued book should be an essential resource for policymakers, scholars in political science, public health and medical ethics, as well as anyone interested in health care reform.