What Is (and Isn't) Healthism
54 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2015 Last revised: 19 Mar 2017
Date Written: February 1, 2016
What does it mean to discriminate on the basis of health status? Health is, of course, relevant in a number of ways. It can speak to the length of our lives, our ability to perform mentally and physically, our need for health care, and our risk of injury and incapacity. But the mere relevance of a particular attribute does mean that considering it should be legally permissible. Moreover, the potential harms that may result from health-status discrimination raise important moral questions. This Essay explores when differentiating on the basis of health is socially acceptable and, by contrast, when it is normatively problematic. Given that variations in health may correlate strongly with the kinds of cost- and performance-related factors identified above, the authors provide a theoretical framework for assessing when considering health-related status is justifiable — perhaps even desirable — and when it is discriminatory.
Keywords: Antidiscrimination, health law, health care, health reform, civil rights, equal protection
JEL Classification: D63, I11, I12, I18, I30, J20, J31, J38, J7, J71, J78, K32, K42, M51, M54
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation