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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Laura L. Sessums, JD, MD (Walter Reed Army Medical Center)
Description: This is a compilation of essays that offer varied perspectives on the theory and practice of distributive justice in healthcare.
Purpose: Impressively, the editors have chosen an array of essays that explore the philosophical and bioethical foundations of distributive justice; review the current practice of rationing and patients' access to care in a number of different countries; highlight the issues raised by various special needs groups; and then wrestle with some dilemmas in assessing priorities in distributing healthcare.
Audience: The majority of the authors are affiliated with a department of philosophy and the book is targeted towards philosophers and medical ethicists who have an interest in access to healthcare. Nonetheless, a few of the authors are physicians, lawyers, political scientists and politicians, and each offers a different perspective on these vexing issues. In addition to those with a theoretical interest in this area, policymakers, politicians, health plan designers and health policy activists also will find this book enlightening.
Features: Each essay is self-contained, so the book can be read in snatches or used easily as a resource when researching a specific question. When read from cover to cover, it offers an extremely broad survey of perspectives on the issue of healthcare access around the world. The essays do not follow any specific political perspective nor is a particular agenda apparent. For the U.S. reader, the book offers no simplistic answers to solve the problems of our imperiled healthcare system. Nonetheless, the essay "Unequal by Design: Health Care, Distributive Justice, and the American Political Process" provides a very interesting political analysis of our current quagmire. The essay "Responsibility for Health Status" explicates beautifully a very important issue that confronts those designing any governmental health plan.
Assessment: This book is an excellent resource.