For years now I’ve heard many apparently intelligent people emphatically and proudly claim that “health care is a right.” In remarks today, Barack Obama stated “health care is not a privilege for a few, but a right for all.” In most cases, the people making these claims are either quite wealthy, have a vested interest in additional money flowing into the health care system and/or are otherwise in a position to directly benefit from free or low-cost health care services.
Indeed, I get the altruistic intentions of those making this statement. No argument from me that we need world peace and everyone should have their own pony. But just what does “health care is a right” really mean? Someone please help me meaningfully understand this nebulous statement. Be specific please.
Context and Details
In the context in which “right” is used, I believe its definition is “a written, moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.”
So in what ways is health care considered a moral and legal entitlement bestowed up American citizens? Some questions I’d like to have answered for me by all those those claiming that health care is a right include:
1. What are the limitations as to medical and other services that must be provided to support this right?
2. Why do you believe poor personal choices leading to the need for extensive health care services shouldn't be a factor in denial of this right?
3. Who’s ultimately responsible for paying for the health care services needed to support this right?
4. On a percentage basis, how much of YOUR annual earnings (and your children's and your children's children) are you personally willing to contribute to others in support of this right?
5. Why do you think hundreds of thousands of dollars – maybe millions of dollars - should be spent on a person who’s 70 or 80 or 90 years old? What about a million+ to save an extreme preemie who will, in best cases, need millions more of lifetime support after having been “saved?”
6. What health care services should be included in this right? Should elective services be included? What about things like expensive experimental procedures? How should ancillary services like ambulance transportation be handled?
Probably Won’t Happen?
I’ve raised my thoughts about this in the past. In most cases, the standard response is typically something along the lines of “you’re a selfish bastard,” “you’re just a greedy person,” and/or “why are you so mean?” Sometimes I get the “you’re an angry, old White guy. I expect this from you.”
But no one ever answers any of the questions I pose. Can you?
Comments are not moderated and there's really no easy way for me to know who leaves a comment on this blog. So go ahead and help me understand why healthcare should be considered a right. Don't be shy!