In the past several hundred years, people did not age, they died. This is because healthcare during that period was not as life-prolonging as it is today. Today, people live to be 80, 90 or above. Today, superior healthcare has made it possible. However, the increasing portion of the population comprised of people above the age of 65 is more susceptible to disease than the younger portion. This calls for more investment in healthcare. Today, the American society is confronted with social and economic problems which necessitate the choice between a world where people must accept to make modest sacrifices for the common good, and a world where people pursue their own benefits selfishly. Solving the current crisis in the healthcare system which involves rising costs, dwindling access, and an aging population is a big challenge to the country. This paper provides arguments in favor of a national healthcare policy which promotes individualist approach to healthcare for the aging population rather than the common good approach.
The first reason why the individualist approach should be favored above the common good approach is that the common good approach is not sustainable. Long term care is very expensive and the resources available are finite (Boards of Trustees, 2007; Keehan, Sisko, Truffer, Smith, Cowan, Poisal, et al., 2008). The Medicare program trustees, for example, have projected that the Medicare program will be bankrupt in only 10 years. Medicare faces an annual cost increase of about 7%, which will, in effect, raise its cost from $427 billion t $844 billion from 2007 to 2017 (Boards of Trustees, 2007). For Medicare to survive viably, taxation on the American public has to rise significantly. This becomes a great burden for the young. This means that the young are likely to suffer to keep the old alive (Dychtwald, 2005).
Secondly, there is a duty to help the young people attain old age. One would argue that one of the objectives of the government should be to enable the productive portion of the population, which is mostly made up of the young, to live proper lives. The sensible solution would be to limit the amount of benefits received by the aged (Dychtwald, 2005). The definition of the “old” in this case should be those individuals who have lived a full life such as education, family, careers etc. over-taxing the younger population may have a negative impact on their physical, social and financial well-being.
Thirdly, an individualistic approach to healthcare for the old is necessitated by the fact that it favors the productive portion of the population rather than the unproductive one. The young generation is more productive than the older generation. Allocating healthcare resources to the old on the basis of the common good of the majority is counter-productive because it is a poor investment decision. The young generation should be empowered because they drive the various sectors of the economy.
The increasing proportion of the population which is aged presents a dilemma in health policy in terms of whether to choose the individualistic approach or the common good approach. The individualistic approach is whereby healthcare is available to only those who can afford it, while the common good approach is whereby healthcare is provided freely to the majority. The first reason why the individualistic approach should be favored is because the common good approach is not sustainable. Secondly, the common good approach overlooks the wellbeing of the younger generation. Thirdly, the common good approach is not a good investment decision because it favors the non-productive portion of the population. Overall, both approaches have pros and cons but the individualistic approach has better long-term gains than the common good approach.
Boards of Trustees, Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund. (2007) Annual Report of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Medical Insurance Trust Funds Board of Trustees. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office; 2007:4. http://www.cms.hhs.gov/ReportsTrustFunds/downloads/tr2007.pdf. Accessed May 5, 2008.
Dychtwald, K. (2005). Re-Visioning Retirement. Harvard Business Review, 4(1), 452-456.
Keehan, S., Sisko, A., Truffer, C., Smith, S., Cowan, C., Poisal, J., et al. (2008). Health Spending Projections Through 2017: The Baby-Boom Generation Is Coming To Medicare. Health Affairs, 27(2), w145-w155.