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Book Reviews

Can a Health Care Market be Moral?
A Catholic Vision

Mary J. McDonough


Reviewed by Sarah Lyon

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At a time where health care challenges are being debated by members of Congress and media pundits, it may be appropriate to read or reread Mary McDonough's powerful primer on Catholic social doctrine that addresses the infinite value of human life and teachings that health care is a basic human right. This is also a text  in which the author comments on the teachings of such leaders as St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas. Pope Leo XIII , Pope Paul VI,  and St. Pope John Paul II.

The chapters of her book address

  • Justice in Catholic Social Thought.,
  • Catholic Social Thought on Capitalism  and Health Care,
  • Health Care Economics Theory ,Market Mechanisms, and Health Care Outcomes
  • The Market Organization Approach to Health Care
  • The Value Dimension Approach to Health Care, and A Catholic Vision of Health Care

Mary McDonough provides us with an  insight into the factors driving health care costs, the Catholic health care system in the United States,  whether the market or governments should be in charge of financing and distribution of health care, and whether some market practices are compatible  with Catholic social thought. She also address the ways in which health, life, suffering and death are interpreted by governments and economists.

The author concludes that "So often in life we are called to believe in a loving Trinitarian God whom we are to imitate by doing justice which requires much of us. When it comes to health care, the most fundamental requirement is that some basic level of health care be accessible  to all. If such a system of health care is to exists and is able to provide minimal care so that humans are given a chance to develop fully, the system must have adequate financing to ensure its survival."