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 (WebMD.com).
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.