David Craig- Beyond Public vs. Private: Health Care as a Social Good

David Craig

Workshop in Multidisciplinary Philanthropic Studies (WIMPS)

David Craig
Religious Studies Department
Beyond Public vs. Private:
Health Care as a Social Good


As an ethicist trespassing on the realms of health economics and health policy, I propose that health care in the United States is neither a private good nor a public good.  The economic distinction between private goods and public goods, as I understand it, fits closely with the theory that sees the provision of public goods through state programs as a response to market failures and the provision of additional public goods through nonprofit organizations as a further response to government failures.  This theory gets the historical story backward in the case of health care in the United States.  I look to core values in the mission statements of nonprofit health care providers and to public values in federal health policies to argue that U.S. health care is a social good, the product of extensive social investments of philanthropic service and public funding.  These investments establish, in turn, new social norms and cultural expectations that help determine how the good of health care is produced and distributed.  In other words, social commitments to moral values predetermine the empirical workings of U.S. health care.  These lessons may apply to other nonprofit sectors, too.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013
12:00 – 1:15 p.m.
ES (Education/Social Work Building) 2101, IUPUI

For more information, please see the attached flier, or email Marty Sulek at msulek@umail.iu.edu.

Medical Humanities & Health Studies Program