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Ethical Issues in Healthcare Financing

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The four goals of good healthcare are to relieve symptoms, cure disease, prolong life and improve quality of life. Access to healthcare has been a perpetual challenge to healthcare providers who must take into account important factors such as equity, efficiency and effectiveness in designing healthcare systems to meet the four goals of good healthcare. The underlying philosophy may designate health as being a basic human right, an investment, a commodity to be bought and sold, a political demand or an expenditure. The design, policies and operational arrangements will usually reflect which of the above philosophies underpin the healthcare system, and consequently, access. Mechanisms for funding include fee-for-service, cost sharing (insurance, either private or government sponsored) free-of-fee at point of delivery (payments being made through general taxes, health levies, etc) or cost-recovery. For each of these methods of financial access to healthcare services, there are ethical issues which can compromise the four principles of ethical practices in healthcare, viz beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy and justice (1, 2).
In times of economic recession, providing adequate healthcare will require governments, with support from external agencies, to focus on poverty reduction strategies through provision of preventive services such as immunization and nutrition, delivered at primary care facilities. To maximize the effect of such policies, it will be necessary to integrate policies to fashion an
intersectoral approach.
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e-Published: 03 Feb, 2014
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