Freedom and Healthcare: a liberal justification of the right to universal access to healthcare
Veen, R.H. van der
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In this thesis, I explore theoretical perspectives on freedom and its implications for the right to universal access to healthcare. Libertarian theorists argue that natural rights protect individuals from coercive mechanisms and reject the right to universal access to healthcare. Therefore, redistribution of private property to provide others with healthcare services is morally unjustifiable and an infringement of rights to individual freedom. However, limiting the conception of freedom to libertarian natural rights causes unfair health inequities that constrain individuals in situations of poverty without any prospects for improvement. In contrast, theories of social justice and the capability approach combined build a strong theoretical justification for the right to universal access to healthcare. Firstly, proponents of social justice theory assign main importance to the protection of normal functioning as a social obligation to preserve a fair range of opportunities. Secondly, proponents of the capability approach judge the degree of substantive freedom by a person’s real opportunities. Based on these perspectives, I argue that universal access to a basic tier of healthcare services contributes to the preservation of normal functioning and therefore provides individuals with real opportunities to improve their own living conditions. Thus, instead of depriving individuals of freedom, universal access to a basic tier of healthcare services provides them with freedom, the freedom to exercise real opportunities in good health.