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Hard to make us personally or financially responsible for our health
Date:6/18/2013

Free and equal access to medical treatment has been a staple of the Danish welfare state, but more and more Danes express the view that people treated for lifestyle diseases like smoker's lungs or obesity should pay for their own treatment as these patients are thought to be responsible for their own medical conditions. The logic behind this view is, however, dubious, says PhD Martin Marchman Andersen from the University of Copenhagen. In a new thesis, he shows how difficult it is to defend the claim that people are responsible for their health and that it is very unclear what they should be held cost-responsible for.

"It is a tempting idea that we could cut health expenses by letting patients suffering from so-called lifestyle diseases pay for their own treatment. But this requires that we as a society can justify the claim that these people actually are responsible for their own conditions particularly in a welfare state where we have free and equal access to medical treatment. It is not, however, a claim that is easy to justify if we accept that we are products of genetics and social circumstances," says PhD Martin Marchman Andersen from the University of Copenhagen.

Free will vs. genetics and social legacy

A 2011 survey from the University of Copenhagen showed that almost 50 percent of the Danes believe that obese people should pay for their own obesity operations if they are shown to be responsible for their conditions. And according to Martin Marchman Andersen, these ideas are gaining ground as the Scandinavian welfare states struggle in the wake of the financial crisis and as we learn more and more about the causes of lifestyle diseases.

"The main argument of why we should be held responsible for our own health is the belief that we have free will; free will is the idea that we are the causes of our own actions and that our behaviour is not triggered by external factors. So if we say that a young man takes up
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Contact: Martin Marchman Andersen
mmarch@hum.ku.dk
45-20-83-14-75
University of Copenhagen
Source:Eurekalert

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