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Social Justice Concept of Healthcare

Social Justice Concept of Healthcare

The health of people is highly dependent on their social status and on the environment that surrounds them. Typically, the poor suffer from insufficient healthcare services and unclean surroundings. According to the OECD and World Health Organization (2003), the essay writer primary reason for the need to invest in health is mirrored by an increasing consensus on the significance of a vast agenda in improving the health of the poor and the marginalized. Parts of the environment where people live may not be socially secure. For instance, people who live in slums are exposed to abusive neighbors, people who may be addicted to drugs or drink alcohol excessively. As such, the people who live in these areas may be prone to violence, accidents, depression, anxiety, and stress. These could further trigger chronic disorders such as cardiovascular diseases and respiratory disorders. 

This paper will investigate the social justice concept of healthcare. Society and the environment are critical factors in the health of an individual. As such, it is important to know the various relations that exist among society, the environment, and a person’s health.

Literature Review

Social Inequality

Social inequality exists in different forms. There could be an unequal distribution of desirable life outcomes and an unequal distribution of opportunities. In addition, there could also be an unequal distribution of opportunities and outcomes for individuals and social groups. It must be emphasized that opportunity can be considered as an integral part of interaction among individuals and their environment (Aberg et al., 2003). These make it difficult for an individual to receive “equal opportunity” within an environment (Carter and Reardon, 2014). In addition to considering the social rights of people, it is also important to consider the benefits that come with the said rights. Paus-Hasebrink, Kulterer, and Sinner (2019) emphasized the term “socially disadvantaged circumstances.” It is inclusive of the entire living conditions, and not just limited to the material level. In this way, the state of people in comfortable conditions and those in poor conditions are contrasted, emphasizing social inequality. Hence, there is a need to remove that inequality. According to Carter and Reardon (2014), there is inequality among groups when race, ethnicity, gender, religion, immigrant status, and other related factors correlate to social disadvantage. Furthermore, according to a report by Rowlingson (2011), social inequality and health-related issues are correlated. Hence, an improved socio-economic status would also mean an improved health condition and healthcare benefits. However, the social anxiety caused by income inequality has been considered as the root cause because the status competition and stress that people experience due to income inequality result in problems and complications in health and community. Therefore, social inequality leads to healthy disadvantages to less fortunate people who can afford insurance and appropriate medical care. Consequently, the GDP of the region decreases because of the large population of unfortunates individuals in society.

These challenges make social justice in healthcare an important concept since everyone deserves equal rights and opportunities to prosper in life. Good health is the main integral aspect that helps people to compete in society in a healthy manner (Adler et al., 2006). Therefore, social determinants of health and equity influence the opportunity to attain a standard level of health. Social inequality is also based on the level of health education that people gain to ensure they understand public health essentials and develop positive health as individuals. Most of the unhealthy living individuals lacked basic education such as proper nutrition and sanitation that is crucial to support a long lifespan. The factor is influenced by other social-economical determiners such as income. 

The social justice concept in healthcare is based on the underlying theory that healthcare (public health and medicine) is a “special social good” (Copeland & Wexler, 2017).  Thus, this theory proposes that people should be provided with an equal distribution of healthcare goods and services. However, many philosophical theorists have been reluctant to accord healthcare special social/moral significance since they hold the assumption that health is not an appropriate focal variable for evaluating social justice. For instance, both the egalitarian and liberal theories are reluctant to focus on healthcare since they believe that natural goods like human health cannot be categorized as primary goods ore social value that should be distributed equally unless an unequal distribution of any of these values is to everyone’s advantage (Copeland & Wexler, 2017). Similarly, many policymakers do not include healthcare in the list of primary social goods subject to budgetary allocation and other economic distributive principles.

One of the major arguments of healthcare is that health has special moral significance because of its status as an end of societal and political activity. Therefore, it can be argued that public policy principles should focus on maintaining and improving the ability to function by meeting healthcare needs (Sen, 2010). The societal obligation to maintain and improve healthcare rests on the ethical principle of healthy principles by Aristotle. Health and flourishing are inherent to human life. Furthermore, human health sustains all other aspects of human life. Thus public policy should aim at ensuring all human beings have the ability to function. This idea is supported by Ruger (2010) who attempts to defend the right to health and reduce the unconceivable health inequalities through the “health capability paradigm”. He argues that societies, through shared governance between the private and public partnerships, can design and sustain effective healthcare institutions and systems that incorporates the political, economic and philosophical policies that provide means to achieve health capabilities.

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 With the enactment of universal healthcare act, there was a concentrated effort towards ensuring that all citizens have access to affordable healthcare.  This ideology has been supported by various social-economic initiatives. However, the extent to which these policies have come to fruition is what makes many people doubt whether they meet the social justice concept. The healthcare disparities and the defining geographical determinants are some of the things that make people doubtful of this concept (Hebert, Sisk, & Howell, 2008). The current healthcare system contains many disparities and treatment gaps for many population segments (Hebert, Sisk, & Howell, 2008). The overriding social concept that captures this issue well across all populations is term “healthcare disparities,” which, in essence, are the differences in groups where a particular group is socially disadvantaged. Most of the notions of healthcare disparities and social inequality are entrenched in social values and principles/considerations of human rights and ethics. Thus, it is unfeasible to describe issues of healthcare inequality/equality without paying attention to the idea of social disadvantage. The social disadvantages are some of the underlying conditions people have to endure based on their relative status within a societal hierarchy.

Educational Attainment

Quality of education is one of the key social determinants of health status. It affects mortality, health behaviors, morbidity, and functional limitations. In an environment where people have a low standard of education, there are high chances of poor healthcare outcomes. This is caused by a lack of understanding of how to attain a healthy lifestyle (Ettner, 2006). For example, the high mortality rate is recorded in such areas since there is little known on how to take care of newborn babies. Therefore, there is high mortality risk occurring within the areas where people are poorly educated. In addition, racism and ethnicity has contributed greatly to this plague (Aberg et al., 2003).

. Health experts support that education is a causal factor in improving the health of society (Cohen et al., 2009). For instance,  health challenges are paramount in slums, where there is congestion of people and poor living standards. On the other hand, higher levels of education are correlated with a better health lifestyle that is associated with a low mortality rate. Education helps people to understand the need to take medical insurance cover for protecting the family against any health challenges that occur in human life. This form of discipline can only be achieved through education and understanding the importance of good health in society.

Income Inequality

Income has a great influence on the health status of individuals. Good income does not necessarily mean a lot, but an appropriate measure that supports health challenges and improves lifestyle. In addition, a reduction in income level can lead to some psychological issues that eventually cause depression (Ettner, 2006). Therefore, income is also an integral determiner of the wellbeing of society. A healthy society should be able to support education, health, other basic needs such as shelter and clothing, among others. People with adequate income and education can take in a balanced meal (Adler et al., 2006). Household income, among other variables, influences health research such as savings for medical checkups and treatment, inherited wealth, and ownership of crucial businesses (Barker and Bagby, 2005). As children grow older, there is a need to protect them from health issues in the environment. This initiative requires good income disposal. Good income earners can purchase nutritious food, good living condition, and health insurance. These needs are crucial for the healthy development of an individual starting childhood to adulthood (Duncan et al., 2004). In addition, secure income flow provides a stable state of mind. This reduces depression, among other psychological challenges that come with stress (Subramanian & Kawachi, 2004).

Social justice in health is a crucial factor that the government can achieve by providing individuals with job opportunities. This will create income and opportunity for education that improve health knowledge among individuals (Cohen et al., 2009). When society is table is stable, it is easy to create healthy habits that are inherited by generations. Practicing these habits for the long term ensures social justice and stability. Therefore, good health standard is characterized by equality of social status.

Occupational Status

This aspect characterizes the level of luxurious life, power, and authority that accrues with positions in the labor market. The status creates income security even in the future. Individuals with this advantage have attained good health because the aspect is inheritable. When a member of the family has the opportunity to secure a permanent job, it is very obvious his or her children will gain the same opportunity (Duncan et al., 2004). Unlike those without employment opportunities, it becomes hard for them to survive the cost of medical care. Occupational status is closely attached to the medical cover for the entire family. This creates the opportunity to experience good health by accessing medical services without exaggerated costs. Poor people have the problem of attaining good job opportunities that care for their future health (Lynch & Kaplan, 2007). This inequality has made some people suffer the pain of bad health and a poor living standard that catalyzes the mortality rate. On the other hand, uneducated people are casually employed in factories that yield health hazards, such as chemicals. Exposure to such toxins reduces an individual’s lifespan. In addition, such jobs are associated with high physical hazards that lead to injuries now and then (Berkman & Glass, 2000). Therefore, they cause a society of low standard more problems than the income can solve. Individuals working in these low standards have less control over their life, a factor that can lead to stress and depression. On the other hand, wealthy and rich individuals who are educated and work in prestigious places with full control of their work and mental status. In addition, well-educated people have jobs that provide all forms of social security crucial for surviving in the modern world. Occupational status is a great determiner for good health in a family.

Capitalism Theory defines the society into three main categories. First is the wage-earners who are the employees who use all their income on basic needs, unlike the capitalists who are resource owner sand with prestigious status in occupation (Costello et al., 2003). Politicians are among the groups that attained the opportunity to benefit from health opportunities in terms of knowledge and education. They control the resources directing them to their family and society. This makes it hard for the poor to achieve a stable health status. This level of injustice influences the wellbeing of the entire nation, consequently, having few enjoying the good health. It is the responsibility of the leaders to ensure health services are available to the socially disadvantaged group in society.

Social Networks

A stable and healthy society is dependent on a connection that individuals have in the community. Secure attachments to important groups in society guarantee the individuals by providing security in terms of health. According to attachment theory, a child born in a connected family with adequate connections in high ranks develops a universal level of human satisfaction that is beneficial throughout the lifespan (Berkman & Glass, 2000). Such bonds are developed over time by people in power and with authority to dictate rules and regulations. In many societies, few people accrue to such opportunities. Social networks and support determine the health wellbeing of the individual in a capitalist society. Social ties determine the level of connections that a person has in society. This includes structural aspects such as the number of people that can help the individual in case of an issue, the homogeneity that determines the similarity of the person to the group, the extent of how the person is attached to these groups, and the degree to which the person is connected. These factors form the web of people that help a person in case of a need (Lynch & Kaplan, 2007). Therefore, a well-connected individual in society develops a sense of belonging in society with a minimal level of stress. Consequently, their health develops normally and become strong people in the community (Barker and Bagby, 2005). On the other hand, poorly connected people have fewer people to look after them and they suffer when calamities such as disease occur to them. This has been paramount because of inequality in the distribution of goods and services to society. Therefore social support received from the social network is a great determiner of the individual’s well-being in society.


The concept of social justice in healthcare provides the basis for action from all stakeholders in the healthcare industry.  This concept acts as a catalyst to social changes as it helps to expose the barriers and disparities that exist in the healthcare system. All the barriers and disparities arise from political and legislative policies, which impact an overwhelming obstacle for social change.  To ensure that every person in this country has the opportunity to attain the highest level of healthcare, the government must initiate social justice in the healthcare system.  This entails distribution in income, education, social networks, and occupational status among social determinants of healthcare and equity. Conversely, the unequal distribution of the crucial resources has led to poor health status. Social justice in health has been affected by the social status of the persons. Hence, the government needs to make such services universal regardless of social connections. This will improve the wellbeing of the entire society, and consequently, social justice in healthcare programs.


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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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