Health Care a Right or a Privilege?

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Health care reform had to face many obstacles before it got passed. In this post, I will argue why I believe health care is extremely important for the American society and why government should have the responsability to take care of its citizens.

It is crucial to bear in  mind that without free health care less favored groups will not  have access. It is extremely difficult for someone with a low income to pay the high costs of medicines and hospital care. In America everything related to health is very expensive; I can recall from personal experience. A few years ago I was severely injured in a car accident, my bill surpassed the half million dollar mark. If I hadn’t been insured I’d still be paying now for the costs. As Jordi post mentions, 45,000 American people die each year because they are not insured. The government has the power to decrease that number and save thousands of lives. The health care system needed to have these changes to benefit society as a whole, instead of only the people who could afford it.
I believe health is a right, not a privileged. As a matter of fact the United Nations Bill of Rights in its third article says: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” How can we guarantee life if medical attention is only a privileged for those who can pay for it?
On the other hand, in a way the fact that health care is proportional to your income makes sense since those who have more should pay more and at the same time get the type of attention they prefer. However, since health is a right it should be the government’s responsibility; it should be free for all. People pay taxes, therefore, they deserve services, including health.

It will be a hard transition for the American people to change their current medical systems. Nevertheless, I think it is going towards the right direction. Free health care is a right we should all fight for.


8 Responses

  1. Health care is not the business of the government. Any service that can be efficiently run by the market should be. There are certain public goods that this does not work for: fire, police, military. Providing health care is not one of these. I would also argue that health care is not a right. Rights are things that are inalienable and do not have an economic cost associated with their production. Property rights, free speech, and freedom from attack are examples of this. They cost money to protect and uphold, but not explicitly to produce. Health care on the other hand does. It cost money to develop drugs, train doctors, improve procedures, etc. Think of it as a value added service that the individual has to pay for outside of what the core offering of the government is. Putting aside my argument that this is not a right, how is America going to afford this socialist policy? As a private citizen who pays taxes, why would I want to pay for someone else’s medical care? As Bucknellians, data shows that by mid career, we will be in one of the higher income brackets. I would argue as management majors, we will rise there more quickly and will probably surpass the average. We will be able to afford great health care because we worked hard and we earned it. I wouldn’t want my tax dollars diverted to an entitlement program that rewards those who made poor choices with medical care. I actually fear that under the new system, my quality of health care will decrease. With lower insurance pay outs to doctors and hospitals, becoming a doctor or running a hospital will become considerably less economically advantageous. This will result in fewer doctors and a higher cost for those who are at the top of their fields. As a drug company I would also be concerned about what a government program would reimburse me for the drugs I produce. Why pour billions into R&D when I know not to expect a large economic return on my risk? The potential economic impact of this is astounding.
    Yes people pay taxes, but this is unaffordable and the burden would fall on tax payers in high income brackets. I think its a horrible thing that there are people without access to even basic health care, but its not the responsibility of government to provide it by redistributing wealth. Unfortunately, in an economic system like ours, there are haves and have nots. Capitalism rewards those who can create value and punishes those who cannot. I think we’ve taken a step in the wrong direction and I look forward to challenges in the Supreme Court .

    • The government should be concerned with the well-being of their citizens. I don’t think I was very clear on this part, but I do not agree that people with higher incomes should pay for the people who can’t afford it. As I mentioned, the government should have the responsibility of giving for those in need. I think its a right because its crucial for survival, you need to have healthy people in order to have a sustainable and growing society.

      • Ok, you don’t agree, but then how will we pay for it? If lower and middle income people can’t afford insurance as it is, how will they afford the increased tax burden if it is not skewed towards the wealthy? It’s an impossible problem to solve at a societal level without incurring significant economic cost.

        • It’s expensive to provide this kind of health care and social support. However, when you think about it although you don’t pay as much in taxes you end up paying more when you add up the costs of buying insurance depending on the level. The more insurance you want, the more you pay. With the health care reform Americans assume people are going to give up their choice of doctors, hospitals and care. The system is set up both to ensure that patients have lots of choice in picking doctors and specialists and to ensure that doctors are not constrained in making medical decisions.
          I am not saying it will be easy, government needs to find ways in order to adjust these changes. they are suppose to serves us, that’s why we have elections.

          • Limited choice is exactly what I’d like to prevent. I don’t mind paying more for a better service. I certainly do not want the government forcing my hand when it comes to choosing who I can receive medical care from. Why set up a system where there is “lots of choice” when we currently have a system with unlimited choice? I think fundamentally, this comes down to more than just health care. My real issue is that I believe that I should have ultimate control over how I allocate my resources, finances included, and the decisions I make on a day to day basis. I don’t think that having a nanny government best serves the people. It creates a welfare state where there are limited consequences for an individuals actions. For example, under the current system (although this does not hold true in all states due to restrictions on insurance companies), if a person decides to use drugs or engage in other risky behavior and develops a health condition as a result, they will pay a much higher premium because they pose a higher risk of financial loss to the insurance company. Under the new system there will be limits on the premiums that insurance companies are allowed to charge and they will also be forced to take people with expensive pre-existing conditions. To pay for this, premiums on healthy people will increase. Is it fair not to punish people who make poor choices with higher premiums or by denying coverage because they pose a greater risk?

    • I disagree with your premise that it does not cost anything to produce inalienable rights. The right to property certainly costs. There is the whole legal infrastructure needed to actually create corporations or other forms of property. DO you think the NYSE and NASDAQ are costless operations? Police and fire protection only exist to the extent that personnel, equipment, and organizations are produced.

      I like the idea of looking for a conceptual basis for inalienable rights. But I don’t think costless will work.

      I think the answer that better fits the data is that inalienable rights are those that society, through politics, norms, wars, or other processes, deems inalienable. There is no prima facie source of inalienability. Jefferson and other founding father types may make claims to creators or other mystical sources, but the lived reality of freedom of expression or freedom from search and seizure only exist AFTER they have been forged and enforced.

      I think that logic is one reason the ideological (as opposed to purely economically-motivated) opponents of HCR fought so vociferously. I disagree with them, but they are correct to see that the bill starts the process of defining access to minimal health care as a right of citizenship and not a privilege of relative wealth or job status. Just as social security was a painful birth (fought as vociferously then) that led to a clear idea that retirement income security is inviolable, this debate has laid the groundwork for a shift in the prevailing political philosophy.

  2. I am just reacting to the first statement- it is not technically free. It may be socialized or something, but there is some mechanism to raise revenue and cover costs be it insurance, government, some hybrid, or, as one dim-witted politician suggested recently, barter with poultry

  3. Hmmm…. Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed is on the Boar dof Directors of NORML.

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