Is Healthcare a Right or a Privilege?

I’m sure this question has been asked and answered before but I wanted to add my view. I had to analyze this issue myself a few years ago when I was helping someone with a graduate paper on the subject. Some will argue that healthcare is a right, but I think it is a privilege, and I’ll tell you why.

The government is not responsible for people; they are responsible for themselves. Government’s role is that of an overseer. Ever since the days of welfare, Social Security, and other entitlement programs, we have come to believe that the government owes us something. The purpose of government is to oversee the welfare and the safety of its citizens. Its responsibility of ensuring the welfare goes as far as making housing, food, and healthcare available but not as far as actually providing it. When the government becomes responsible for that, it has ceased being an overseer and has become a caretaker. Just as its role in ensuring the safety of its people means providing a military and police force but it doesn’t go as far as providing personal security for each and every citizen. The people bear some responsibility for providing for their own safety. In reality, if the government were to provide adequately all the services necessary for the welfare and security of its citizens, it would have to collect nearly half the citizenry’s income in tax revenue to offset the cost.

I believe that to ensure the public well-being, the government should provide free health screenings and immunizations to all citizens, but anything beyond this should be borne by the patient (the only exceptions being the young and the elderly). Such screenings and/or immunizations should be for measles, chicken pox, mumps, flues, and the like because, if undiscovered or untreated, these could lead to epidemics much like the black plague of the 18th century.

Government should also be responsible for making sure that healthcare is affordable for the general population. One reason why people are clamoring for government intervention in healthcare is because they cannot afford to pay for it themselves. Whereas, once upon a time operations cost less than $1,000, now they can be as much as $80, 000, depending upon the procedure. There was a time in my grandmother’s life that it cost $25 to deliver a child, now it is well over $9,000 (

If healthcare is unaffordable, no one is going to go see a doctor. They will stay at home and try home remedies. Some will die from diseases that likely would have been preventable, if caught in time. Diseases would spread through segregated, and likely undocumented, citizens. Unimmunized children will take diseases to school and spread them to the population. This may be the reason for the recent outbreak of TB in Atlanta in 2010.

So, to answer the question is healthcare a right or a privilege. I believe that healthcare is a privilege. Though the government should provide basic healthcare, the reason for this is the public welfare not individual welfare. Those who think that healthcare is a right should look at the nations that have national healthcare programs. From what I can tell, nationalized or socialized healthcare provides only marginalized health benefits and drives up the nation’s debt. Also with nationalized healthcare, will the patient choose the provider or the government? Who chooses what procedures to be covered? Who decides how long or how much hospital time or physical therapy time will be approved? Who decided what is medically-necessary? Will there be death panels? What about patient’s bill of rights or will there be any? Everything free is not necessarily good.

What is the solution? That goes beyond the purpose of this paper but if I were to hazard a guess, I favor the idea of providing basic healthcare screenings and immunization and leave the rest to the individuals. I don’t think subsidized insurance plans will work. Privatizing the system won’t work unless there is regulatory oversight to leash the greed of the insurance companies. Of course, such actions will lead to another headache—bureaucracy and bribes. Let’s not even discuss government-ran healthcare programs.

We simply need to get back to a system where people were responsible for themselves and didn’t depend on the government to provide for their every need. Government does need to help ensure its people can afford healthcare benefits by 1) making them affordable, 2) providing decent paying jobs so there is income to pay for these benefits, and 3) keeping down the costs of other things, like gasoline, that causes the prices of nearly everything else to go up and eat away any available income.

Here is a site I found while researching this. I thought it was quite interesting.

What's your take? Is health care a right or a privilege?

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Comments 16 comments

BJC profile image

BJC 5 years ago from Florida

Outstanding well written article!


preacherdon profile image

preacherdon 5 years ago from Arkansas Author

Thanks again, BJC.

American Romance profile image

American Romance 5 years ago from America

Govts role isn't even as strong as overseeing that food, and shelter is provided! Government is supposed to stay out of the way and simply protect our FREEDOM to pursue happiness,.............and not off the backs of others! Excellent job

preacherdon profile image

preacherdon 5 years ago from Arkansas Author

Thanks for the comment, American Romance. I agree that government should not be responsible for providing food and shelter, except in certain circumstances. I explain this better in my new post, "Is America Finished as a World Leader."

leroy64 profile image

leroy64 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

My opinion is still up in the air. Whether it is a right or a privilege, health care is necessary for a good quality of life. I have serious doubts about the ability of the Federal government to address issues of any kind.

What do you think of a local community pooling resources to hire a doctor, or doctors, for the citizens of a town? Doctors would have a steady income and the citizens would have one or more local doctors for general health care. This is not a worked out thought, so feel free to say whatever you want.

preacherdon profile image

preacherdon 5 years ago from Arkansas Author

Leroy, such a proposal has possibilities. It is essentiallly a localized version of nationalized healthcare. The problem would be making sure that there are doctors for every discipline (pediatrics, internal medicine, dental, ob-gyn, etc.). Would everyone have to contribue? How about those on a fixed income who have to choose between medicine and food? If everyone doesn't have to contribute, can they still have access to medical care? How would the money be collected and who would be responsible for collecting it?

Maybe some sort of localized insurance plan might work. Each month people pay into the plan and get a card which they take to the doctor's office. If they haven't paid, then their services will be denied. If they have, their services will be authorized.

Frankly, I believe that healthcare is a privilege and whoever wants it should pay for it. It does benefit society to everyone to have access to free screenings because it can catch viruses, diseases, and the like. However, if they want extensive care, then they must pay into it like with car insurance. If you want to be covered in the case of an accident, you gotta buy it. If not, you're on your own.

leroy64 profile image

leroy64 5 years ago from Dallas, Texas (Oak Cliff)

Like I said, my thought are not worked out.

I would think that the reasons a community would pool its resources in such a manner would most likely be related to survival or some actual need. The problem is in who controls the distribution, as it always is.

One approach would be a G.P. restricted by address or zip code. The access would be controlled by the doctor. One problem is that the doctor will never get any rest. Individual policies can be used to cover emergencies and long term care, child birth, etc. A general practice would cover basic services.

I sincerely believe that the issues you raised can only be worked out at the local level. It would be difficult even then. Honestly, I agree with you about health care being a privilege. Thanks for giving me something to think about.

preacherdon profile image

preacherdon 5 years ago from Arkansas Author

Leroy, your ideas have to be better than the ones floating around Washington right now. Designing it, write it and send it to your congressman. Be careful because he might still your idea.

natalia 5 years ago

health care is a privilege not a right. excellent job

preacherdon profile image

preacherdon 4 years ago from Arkansas Author

Thanks for visiting, Natalia.

Guest 4 years ago


charnwales 4 years ago

While I agree with the essence of the article, I voted "Right", because I see it as a right in the sense that owning real estate is a right. I have the right to own it and enjoy it, but I have to buy it, just like everything else I might wish to have & enjoy. So, I say it is my right to have it, but at my own expense. But I do acknowledge that there are a host of things that could be done to lower costs, and they are not being addressed, especially through the ACA. How do you get more people enabled to purchased coverage? By lowering the price. Just like when the cost of houses, cars, etc are lower, more people can afford more of it. Lower cost of care will naturally expand coverage.

preacherdon profile image

preacherdon 4 years ago from Arkansas Author

Guest4 and charnwales, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I believe that healthcare is a privilege. If you see it as a right, what entitles you to it? You have it because you have access to it. Whether or not you can afford it is another thing. If healthcare was a right, then it would be free. But healthcare has always been a private enterprise, one perhaps provided by people who cared more for patients than profit. Yet, people always paid for it.

You have a right to air. You have a right to food. You have a right to water. You have a right to safety. As charnwales said, you do not have a right to property. It is a privilege because you pay for it. You pay for the privilege of healthcare just as you pay for the privilege of legal representation. The only time legal representation is provided free of charge is in criminal proceedings and that's because your freedom (and sometimes your life) is at stake and freedom is a right. (I know there are some exceptions to free legal services such as pro bono and legal aid, but for the most part, you will pay for legal services,)

I have been one who has not had health insurance and it is a bummer. I went out and got some as soon as I could because I did not want to put in a situation where I needed to go to the hospital and couldn't get in unless I had insurance or had a large bill to pay once I got out. This is further proof that healthcare is a privilege and not a right--hospitals can turn you away for lacking the ability to pay. If healthcare was a right, this would be illegal and the government would impose exhorbitant fees on facilities that did.

To take it one step further: good health is a gift from God. It is not a right. It is a privilege and a blessing. Not everyone has it. Be thankful if you do and if you don't be thankful it is no worse than what it is.

beadreamer247 profile image

beadreamer247 4 years ago from Zephyrhills, FL

I totally disagree. People are born with disabilities or diseases.....from day one they depend on health care. How please shall they pay for it? Oh, their parents? Did they choose the disability or disease and plan on it? Will you plan on your child being disabled when you get pregnant?

The elderly worked hard their entire life, life expectancy has risen dramatically, now they get older and need care. Do you expect their kids, who have their own family and barely can make it financially with both of them working for one to stop working and to take care of the parents? So they will on top of it depend on Social Security now? Maybe they even had to move far away in order to find a what?

What if you got in an accident and since then need medical attention, even if it is just medication that costs you a doctor visit regularly to get the prescription plus $150 a months.....and you are on the low end of income? Do you know how much diabetic medication costs?

How about your own parents.....tomorrow they get very sick and need nursing care......or they will die. Now what? Since health care is a privilege and you don't have the money to pay for the care they need....get ready for the burrial!

Your beloved wife suddendly gets very prepared a little for it...have health insurance, but the coverage is limited and the bills are flying after can't pay your mortgage anymore and lost your home already....Well, since it is a privilege, your wife is not so privileged, so let her die.

What a nice future of the American people!!!

preacherdon profile image

preacherdon 4 years ago from Arkansas Author

Bedreamer247, I can understand your frustration. I went through it just a couple of years ago when I put my grandfather in a nursing and had to find the money to pay for it. Yet, that does not negate that healthcare is a privilege. The costs you refer to are the real problem. If government is to be involved it should be in regulating the costs of medicine and medical care.

If healthcare is a right, then all hospitals and medical clinics should be government-ran. Do you know how much that would cost? Do you know how long you would have to wait to get medical care or have a procedure done? Go ask the people in the UK and Canada. You think a visit to the ER takes a long time. I used to take my grandfather to the VA for his regular checkups and that would just about be an all-day experience.

If healthcare is a right, then you are looking at a socialist society. You cannot have free-market, capitalist healthcare in a socialistic society. You can in a capitalist society where doctors and hospitals are free to charge what they want and you can take advantage of those services if you are willing and able to pay the price.

Otherwise, there is always the health department, health clinics, and state-owned hospitals.

Sanxuary 3 years ago

Its unaffordable and that is the only debate.

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