Medical need and health need

Clinical Ethics 18 (3):287-291 (2023)
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I introduce a distinction between health need and medical need, and raise several questions about their interaction. Health needs are needs that relate directly to our health condition. Medical needs are needs which bear some relation to medical institutions or processes. I suggest that the question of whether medical insurance or public care should cover medical needs, health needs, or only needs which fit both categories is a political question that cannot be resolved definitionally. I also argue against an overly strict definition of medical need on the grounds that this presupposes, wrongly, that medical intervention should always be a last resort.

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Ben Davies
University of Sheffield


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