It seems to me that the military can provide whatever benefits it deems best for its members. If that involves a pension, or health insurance, or whatever, there's no philosophic or moral problem with it. But I wouldn't call that "welfare", which is "aid in the form of money or necessities for those in need" (Merriam-Webster). If you get the health care because you served in the military, then you earned it--it's a payment, not a handout.
answered Oct 03 '10 at 04:27
I think the question has a right use, but that its current implications are off.
To the extent that governments include the offer of paying for health insurance for its solders, then there is no problem with the government paying what they agreed they would as part of the contracts of service. It is not a matter of welfare but simply of due payment for services rendered. Thus Jason, Kirk, AD, and Ethwc are correct.
The real issue is not one of core morality, but of what the structure of payments offered to servicemen and women ought be from the perspective of our oversight over civilian administrators in the Departments / Ministries of War in our capacities as voting citizens. The total economic value of these payments should be set at market value, with the individual servicemen and women then deciding for themselves what kind and what level of post-service care they judge fit to purchase from private providers. I don't think governments should be second-guessing how servicemen and women - in fact, any government employee for that matter - ought to spend their own money. I think that rather than governments trying to itemise how much money is paid for what, they should be offering straight salaries as the primary and whose total value would be the same as present salaries plus the value of insurances etc as currently paid. The only validity I can see for governments offering optional participation in particular plans is that the government can use its market power in this regard to get bulk deals, and thus provide values that individuals could not get as private citizens directly from the healthcare providers.
Taking the issue even wider, exactly the same consideration should apply to any employment contracts, whether in public service or private industry. Unless there are economically identifiable bulk-discounts to be had, second-guessing people by offering non-cash external benefits (ie excluding issues of working conditions) hinders people's own rational determination of value-hierarchies. Therefore I'd have to say that, no, governments should not be purchasing healthcare on behalf of others as a matter of course, and that any options offered have to be economically justifiable from the individual serviceman's persective.
answered Oct 04 '10 at 03:08