Of rescue and responsibility: Learning to live with limits

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 19 (5):455-470 (1994)
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Universal access to health care is still a dream rather than a reality in the United States. This is partly because a rule of rescue, by impelling us to help people in need, urges us to ignore the limits of our health care policies wherever those limits would adversely affect a given individual. As the rule of rescue undermines whatever limits we set on health care entitlements, it can thwart the cost containment so essential to expanding access. Rather than accept unlimited expense, we have thus far declined to universalize health care. The situation is exacerbated by an economic insulation shielding patients and physicians from the costs of care, prompting both to regard health care as free, an unlimited right. To reverse this costly entitlement mentality and place reasonable limits on rescue, patients must exercise greater personal responsibility for the costs of their care by directly experiencing some of the economic consequences of their health care decisions. Several mechanisms are available to accomplish this goal without posing economic barriers to needed care or penalizing people for becoming ill. Keywords: Clinton health plan, rationing, rule of rescue CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?



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