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In the work place, some issues have been arising with the questions about whether the non-smoking employees should pay same medical insurance premium with the smoking employee.
The argument is that smoking employees should pay a premium to cover their smoking related treatment. This issue has been a point of concern since the 1980s and has remained to be an issue to date.
The reasoning from the either side involve economic arguments which a complex and maybe hard to comprehend. However, one of the most oblivious reasons is that it is a deterrent to this behavior, which is harmful to the life of the smoker.
The main aim of this paper is to examine the real situation, analyze the fact and propose a reason concerning the matter based on the available facts and opinions.
Breadth of the issue
One of the most important points to note under this is that this is not an issue of smokers and non-smokers. By extension, it involves everyone who undertakes a life endangering activity knowingly.
Therefore, the implication made by the proponents that this is an important step towards eliminating smoking reflects a shortsighted argument. It is oblivious that, if this was to be passed as rule, the soon or later people who engage in dangerous sporting activities will have to pay for their medical coverage in case of injury (Khalid 32; Garfield 16).
Furthermore, it will also imply that people who attempt suicide also will have to pay for their medical and rehabilitation fees. This is not yet all the implication of this argument but its gravity is from this point clearer.
Even though proponents may ask why smokers continue to smoke yet they know the harmful effects of tobacco, it is not always healthy to lay all the blame on their shoulders.
This has an implication also on the performance of the public health ministry. It is the mandate of this ministry to conduct public awareness programs and to educate the public on the dangers of some behaviors (Hayry and Hayry 34).
Continued smoking by the public is a measure on how this ministry has been performing. This means that, in as much as smokers continue to smoke despite the dangers of smoking, it is the responsibility of the government to educate them about smoking, in which it has failed terribly.
Ethical and legal issues
One of the most popular arguments among the proponents of this topic is that there is a moral obligation between the doctor and the patient is to promote health- something valued by both parties, and therefore, such a relationship should attract allegiance from both parties otherwise, either party can withdraw from the relationship.
First, the assumption that patients place the same value on health as doctors is vague. Given their profession and training, doctors place highest value on health than anybody else in the society.
On the other hand, other people value other thing like money and pleasure than health (Underwood and Bailey 54). From this point of view, the argument that most people see doctors to avoid suffering rather than be healthy is valid. Since the value placed by both parties on health is questionable, then the moral obligation based on this measure is questionable too.
A keen analysis reveals that, due to the conflicting values between doctors and patients, the issue of who should receive treatment should lie in the hands of the state and not the doctors.
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The questions hear is whether a person’s behavior will cause them to lose their rightful access to equal medical care. In as much as the state give rights and takes them under certain circumstance, it is important to note that fundamental rights are involved in this case- the right to life (Goodin 58).
In other parts of the law, there are basic provisions by the law for people who have committed a criminal offence like fair trial. In medical practice, health is a basic right that regardless of the behavior of the patient and therefore health care services are basic provisions in this regard.
Another ethical issue is the fact that one person in their behavior should not endanger the lives of others and where possible, appropriate legislation is necessary. Smokers may endanger lives of others as they may spend many medical resources with their operations at the expense of other patients (Mamode 14).
The question is should the doctors use discretion to maximize the well-being of the greater group as opposed to one patient? However, any national health system should acknowledge that unlike the utilitarian belief that individual rights are forfeitable for the benefit of a bigger group, the financial risks of bad health should be borne by the society as a whole. This would therefore discourage such a sacrifice.
Any nationalized health system seeks to eliminate the disparity between the poor and the rich. If smokers were to pay for their smoking-related medical bills, the rich will pay but the poor will die. However, this will mean more than just that.
The drinkers will pay for their bills, reckless drivers and such like (Hayry and Hayry 36). This is a rational utilitarian thought though not well calculated. This will encourage more smoking because soon or later, everyone will die for one reason or another regardless of the person’s promptness in following the doctor’s advice.
With regard to the medical expenditure to the society, there is evidence that, by comparing the medical costs to the society by smokers and non-smoker, the difference may be insignificant.
In fact, smokers save the government money by dying early. Research has shown that smoking causes a few problems during the productive years of a person’s life span.
It results then that those people die even before they start benefiting from their pensions leaving the non-smoker to enjoy their contributions (Weinkam and Rosenbaum 28). Therefore, government should not forget the financial benefits the tobacco industry brings to them.
Another point that proponents seem oblivious of is the other habits that smokers would engage in supposing smoking did not exist and the cost of such behaviors to the state (Hayry and Hayry 34). Therefore, it turns out that denying smokers their medical care on basis of cost to state would extinguish individual rights and if such were on utility basis, then it would encourage smoking.
Despite the long time that this topic has been out debate, the two sides have not yet come to terms on what is the best practice concerning this issue. Overtime, the reaction to this is that the government tries to change the rules after the game has become.
The proponents in this issue have continuously presented half-baked propositional which have failed to provide reasonable grounds for the enactment of regulations regarding the treatment of smokers. Therefore, the resole to date remains holding any restrictions to the issue.
Garfield, John. “Let the health authority take the responsibility.” British medical Journal. 306 (1993): 1050. Web.
Goodin, Roner. “The ethics of smoking.” Ethics. 99 (1989): 574-624. Web.
Hayry, Heta and Matti Hayry. “Utilitarianism, human rights and the redistribution of health through preventative medical measures.” Journal of applied philosophy. 6, 1(1989): 43-51. Print.
Khalid, Mohamed. “Denying treatment is indefensible.”British medical journal. 306 (1993):1408. Web.
Mamode, Neal. “Denying access is more costly.” British medical journal. 306 (1993): 1408. Web.
Underwood, Michael and John Bailey. “Should smokers be offered coronary bypass surgery?” British medical journal. 306 (1993):1047-1050. Web.
Weinkam, James and Wilf Rosenbaum. “Smoking and hospital utilization.” Social science and medicine. 24 (1987): 983-986. Web.