The 2017 Bishop Lecture in Bioethics was presented by Norman Daniels, PhD, Mary B Saltonstall Professor and Professor of Ethics and Population Health in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Daniels presented a talk entitled, "Universal Access vs. Universal Coverage: Two models of what we should aim for." The Bishop Lecture served as the keynote address during the CBSSM Research Colloquium.
Abstract: We contrast two models of health care insurance, the Universal Coverage model underlying the Affordable Care Act and the Universal Access model underlying the (now withdrawn) American Health Care Act. Our goal is to evaluate the strongest argument for the Universal Access model. That model suggests that if people have real choices about health care insurance, some will buy it and some will not, and no one should be mandated to buy it. We argue that the Universal Access model presupposes that people can afford insurance, and that means subsidizing it for millions of people as the Universal Coverage model underlying the ACA does. These costs aside, the strongest argument for the Universal Access model is that giving people true choice may make the population level of well-being higher. Some people will have other priorities that they prefer to pursue, especially if they can free ride by enjoying the benefits of a system that provides health care without their contributing to it. If the additional costs that third parties have to pay as a result of the increase in real choice are significant, then the strongest argument for Universal access fails: the benefits of choosing not to be insured are outweighed by the imposed costs on others from these choices.
Norman Daniels, PhD is Mary B. Saltonstall Professor of Population Ethics and Professor of Ethics and Population Health in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of Public Health. Formerly chair of the Philosophy Department at Tufts University, his most recent books include Just Health: Meeting Health Needs Fairly (Cambridge, 2008); Setting Limits Fairly: Learning to Share Resources for Health, 2nd edition, (Oxford, 2008); From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice (2000); Is Inequality Bad for Our Health? (2000); and Identified versus Statistical Lives (Oxford 2015). He has published 200 peer-reviewed articles and as many book chapters, editorials, and book reviews. His research is on justice and health policy, including priority setting in health systems, fairness and health systems reform, health inequalities, and intergenerational justice. A member of the IOM, a Fellow of the Hastings Center, and formerly on the ethics advisory boards of the CDC and the CIHR, he directs the Ethics concentration of the Health Policy PhD at Harvard and recently won the Everett Mendelsohn Award for mentoring graduate students.