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What is Obamacare - Facts and Details: Morality Meets Reality

Updated on December 4, 2012
Obamacare - a national healthcare plan
Obamacare - a national healthcare plan | Source

National Healthcare: A Moral Concept in a Real World

from the Curmudgeon's desk: GA Anderson

The public debate over President Obama's National Healthcare plan, (Obamacare), facts is usually framed as a battle between the moral vs. the greedy, the caring vs. the selfish, duty vs. choice, a battle with no gray areas, you are either right or you are wrong. Viewing Obamacare details from only such polarizing positions as these creates a major stumbling block to finding a path to a goal that both sides agree is admirable and right.

But the noble morality of the goal must be addressed in the reality of the world we live in, the truths of human nature, and of course, the concept of The American Way.

The Morality of Providing Healthcare

The concept that healthcare should be available to everyone is hardly a debatable point. Of course it's an admirable goal, and in an ideal world it would be a reality.

But we do not live in an ideal world - yet, so national healthcare questions must be addressed in the context of the real world we do live in.

The premise that healthcare is a God-given right is also a debatable point. Very debatable. Non-believers can rightly point out that you can't be given something from something that doesn't exist. America is a nation of both believers and non-believers.

The proclamation that it is a Human right is also hotly contested. Who decides just what Human rights are? Where do they come from? It's obvious, and everybody knows, are not acceptable answers.

The declaration that it is our government's responsibility to ensure that everyone has healthcare is a question of degrees. How much healthcare does this duty require be provided? Enough to be life-saving, or whatever is needed to be life-enhancing?

So even giving the point that morally we should want everyone to have access to healthcare, those are just a few of the basic questions that need answers in order to define the limits of this morality.

The Reality of National Healthcare

The reality of providing healthcare is that it is not free. It has both monetary and human costs. It isn't a commodity you get free from a magic well, it is a service that can only be provided by other humans. And that is the basis of the argument of most people that oppose national healthcare. Not that they don't think it's a worthy goal - but who's going to pay for it?

Reality also requires that the question of degrees of healthcare be answered. Should a national healthcare plan, paid for by everyone, be only for life-saving healthcare? Should it also provide healthcare that improves someone's quality of life, (re: medical issues)? Or should it include every type of healthcare service available - hair transplants, anti-aging treatments, bionic limbs, cosmetic procedures that make you feel better about yourself?

That is the reality of a national healthcare plan - who will pay for it, and what is the scope of services provided.

It might be reasonably ventured that most Americans would support a national healthcare plan that would ensure emergency life-saving medical care - reasonable because it already exists. Contrary to the picture painted by the most ardent supporters of a national healthcare plan, U.S. law already mandates that hospitals and medical service providers must render emergency medical service regardless of a patient's ability to pay. And it isn't just life-threatening medical needs that are served. Walk into any medical services emergency room with a broken bone, severe cut, or even a fever, and medical treatment will be given - regardless of healthcare insurance coverage or ability to pay. Or even citizenship.

Americans that oppose Obamacare are not immoral and compassionless people, they just don't want to be forced to pay for someone needs without a choice.

But Healthcare is a Right in an Enlightened Society

For proponents of the argument that healthcare is a right, perhaps the following logic will determine the correctness of that belief.

Start with a few "givens" -

  1. Medical care can only be provided by people - the example of machines and devices that can provide medical services is a false one - people had to develop them first
  2. Providing medical care has a cost - either in time or money
  3. Every human is on an inevitable march to death and has a finite number of minutes in their life before they reach the end of their journey.
  4. The adage "time is money" could also be stated "time has value" - with regards to human life and endeavers

Given those basic truisms, then the assertion that a person has a right to healthcare is the same as asserting that someone has a right to a portion of someone else's life. That is an argument that probably has very little support among rational freedom-loving people.

To expand on that point:

  • A doctor has a life expectancy of "X" number of minutes, so every minute spent providing medical care is a minute less of life they have for living as they choose. But this is also true for any endeavor in anyone's life - people just choose to trade life minutes for other values. From earning money, to thrilling adventures, quiet time reading to quality time playing with the grandchildren, people are always making choices are how to spend their minutes of life. But it is important to note that it is a choice - people choose how to spend their life's minutes.
  • A doctor's day is filled with providing medical services - but that was their choice of careers, of how they wanted to spend their life minutes. They also provide those services for an exchange of values, either for money which enhances their quality of life, or for free, which is a choice they make for whatever value it gives them.

Those that see healthcare as a right are saying that a doctor must provide healthcare services regardless of their choice. And without benefit of value exchange.

They say, "I have a right to healthcare - you must see me and provide for my medical needs. I can't pay you, and I'm a lousy specimen of a human being that doesn't really deserve to be in the company of decent people, but healthcare is my right. So you must see me."

If healthcare is a right, then the doctor will have no choice. Whether it is only a five minute office visit or a two hour consultation, that is life minutes that doctor has to spend - with no choice or value exchange in the matter. In essence someone saying they have a right to healthcare is the same as saying they have the right to a portion of someone else's life.

Really? What about the doctor's right to choose how they spend their life? Which right is trump? And what about plumbers? No one is claiming a right to running water, so a plumber doesn't have to worry about some one claiming a right to a portion of their life. Why should the plumber be more free than the doctor?

The Government Should Pay for Healthcare

Then there is the argument that being an American citizen includes the right to healthcare, so the government should pay for it. Again, really? What money should the government use to pay for healthcare? It doesn't have any money that it doesn't take from its taxpayers, so the truth is that saying the government should pay for it is the same as saying the taxpayers should pay for it. Your neighbor Bob is a taxpayer, just hand him your medical bills. That's fair isn't it?

The purpose of taxation is to support the legitimate functions of government. If providing healthcare is a legitimate function of government, why hasn't it been done before this? Why wasn't it stated in the constitution? Why is it a legitimate function now, and not in 1796?

Healthcare is an admirable and desirable goal - but it is not a right. Government can have a role in ensuring healthcare is available to all its citizens, there are measures it can take to facilitate the provision of healthcare, but it is not a mandated government responsibility, and it is not a burden to be arbitrarily placed on the shoulders of all citizens.

Government can help achieve the goal of national healthcare services

The current imbroglio of the national healthcare debate is only a symptom of the mess our political system is in. Special interests, bought politicians, intransigent positions, and short-sightedness are the main reasons the national healthcare issue is as divisive and contentious as it is.

All-or-nothing and scrap-it-and-start-anew proposals are deal killers. Moderation and common-sense incremental steps are what will work. The U.S. already has a working model in place - MediCare. It is aware of problem areas that if fixed could save hundreds of millions of dollars - a good first step for the seed money needed for expansion of healthcare services, and the problems of influence-peddling and special interest corruption are in the news daily, so healthcare reform is possible - if the obvious problems are just addressed first.

But until then...

Healthcare is not a right. It is not a duty of government. And it is not something the government can do better than the private sector. As long as our political system is as corrupted as it is now - and always has been, a national healthcare plan can only be instituted as an enforced obligation, which will never be accepted as legitimate by a free and rational populace.

Morality... meet reality.

See more GA Anderson Political articles

GA Anderson aka Gus
GA Anderson aka Gus | Source

About the author

Writing for the Daily Constitutional, and commentary from the Curmudgeon's desk - GA Anderson

"Seeing it does not make it real, and reading it does not make it true. Use a little common-sense and trust your instincts." - GAA

*Composite image component source citations: Creative Commons images,,, *photo and image source credits: divider and separation images -

Obamacare: Morality Meets Reality Comments

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    • GA Anderson profile image

      GA Anderson 5 years ago from USA

      @coolpapa - thanks for reading "Obamacare: Morality Meets Reality, " and leaving a sincere comment.

      James is more than capable of answering your query, so I will leave that to him. But I would address a couple points.

      Your criteria of infant mortality rate and life expectancy for stating that "At least 18 countries have better healthcare than the USA...," are flawed.

      The infant mortality rate barometer is not a valid yardstick to use as different countries apply it differently. ie. in the U.S. an infant's life begins to be counted at it's first breath, assisted or not, out of the womb, whereas in some other countries infant life is judged to begin by different standards, such as only after maintained unassisted self-breathing, or after doctors evaluate the infant and determine that it has a chance for sustained life, (could take 1 to 3 days to determine), etc. etc. The point being - there is the documented possibility that infants that are deemed not viable for life when born, and thus are not counted as a live birth - so not counted in regards to the infant mortality rate. It is an apples and oranges comparison.

      Life expectancy is another factor that is subject to many more factors than just healthcare. diet, culture, heredity, etc. For instance, there is reliable documentation that a lifetime of near-starvation caloric intake actually extends life. (but that, again, is only anecdotal documentation) - still, the point is, healthcare is not the only factor.

      I will leave it James to address the healthcare systems of the countries you mentioned, but there are several in your list that I wouldn't want to have to receive care from if I were not of the political elite of those countries. ie. Cuba, China.

      Still, you are partially correct - someone needs to be factually better equipped. But thanks again for the read and the comment.


    • Coolpapa profile image

      Coolpapa 5 years ago from Florida

      Mr. Watkins states that "... If providing healthcare is a legitimate function of government, why hasn't it been done before this?"

      What planet do you live on Jim? A partial list of countries with national healthcare systems include: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cuba,Y Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, South Korea, and the United Kingdom.

      At least 18 countries have better healthcare than the USA if you use infant mortality and/or life expectancy as a yardstick.

      Mr. Watkins needs to become better equipped with facts if he wants to debate issues!

    • profile image

      quim 5 years ago

      Author lacks intelligence.

    • GA Anderson profile image

      GA Anderson 6 years ago from USA

      @James A Watkins, thanks for stopping by, and the detailed and thoughtful comment

      It deserves more than a short response, But I'll have to come back for that. Right now I'm busy chuckling and chasing the mental images you created with your ..."if a person eats Ho-Hos all day," crack, gorgeous!


    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for an excellent, as well as reasonable and balanced article.

      I like your question: "Who decides just what Human rights are? Where do they come from?"

      Of course, in the Declaration of Independence the rights of human beings come from God Almighty. But this illustrates the cultural divide in America. After decades of pounding by progressive educators—who sympathize with Marxism and Atheism if they do not embrace them fully—many young folks are not aware of this Truth and have been taught that "rights" are bestowed by governments.

      You are spot on with this: "If providing healthcare is a legitimate function of government, why hasn't it been done before this?"

      Because providing health care is not a legitimate function of government.

      Medicaid and Medicare admit to having about 15 percent fraud and waste—$100,000,000,000 every year down the toilet—and progressives say the solution is to give them trillions more to manage! If that does not demonstrate that their true aim is the destruction of America, which they hate, I don't know what would.

      They fact is, millions of people do not even buy into modern medicine or go to doctors. Why should they be forced to pay for those who do? And the real reason our health care costs so much is the obesity, diabetes, horrible eating habits, lack of exercise, et al. But progressives absolutely refuse the concept of personal responsibility. So if a person eats Ho-Hos all day, never even walks, gets up to 600 pounds and develops heart problems they would say "It wasn't his fault. It was the oppressive society of America that made him this way."


    • GA Anderson profile image

      GA Anderson 6 years ago from USA

      @Credence2 -

      re:"tell me how you "traditionalist: and how that differs from a position taken by a classic conservative?"

      don't want much do ya. :)

      Ok, How about an easy one

      - I think a marriage should be between a man and a women - if gays want to be "married", fine, and I don't begrudge them all the legal stuff that comes with that recognition - AND I don't doubt their sincerity or depth of their feelins - but a gay couple is not the "traditional" concept recognized as marriage. It's different, they're different, so pick a different moniker --- that's a pretty conservative view, I suppose

      but on abortion - it is not a black or white issue for me, which is definitely not a conservative position.

      that should be enough to stir up a real storm of dart attacks. but were I to develop more examples I am convinced I could get even you to see the two labels are not synonymous.


    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Hi, GA, thanks for your considered response. One of these days, tell me how you "traditionalist: and how that differs from a position taken by a classic conservative?

    • GA Anderson profile image

      GA Anderson 6 years ago from USA

      @credence2 - ok, maybe the move-out thought was a little overly dramatic - perhaps even mistaken, hmm... I'll think on it. Gut feeling is that most school taxes are collected through property taxes, So it still feels like there is some flexibility there... this needs more thought

      I wish those folks looking for alternative solutions the best of luck.

      Like you, this is not a subject I know a lot about - politically or legislatively, but... my wife has been in a doctor's office environment for 20 years, and from what I hear from her - there are opportunities for many common-sense reforms that would not be difficult to identify and would result in significant changes in the industry. And most of them result from bureaucratic hoops.

      Add a house cleaning of lobbyist and bought-politician provisions and restrictions - and I think considerable cost savings could be found.

      ie. tort reform - extra tests and procedures to cover butts - excessive malpractice Ins. costs

      medicare and medicaid fraud - folks think that $600 hammer in the military was outrageous - they should check some of the medicare stuff like diabetes meters - stores practically give them away because the real money is in the super-inflated price of the test strips, or examples like the Scooter store -

      or the outright frauds that buy medicare card numbers and then bill millions and billions of fake charges

      etc. etc. etc.

      damn right the system needs fixing - and Reoublicans are just as responsible/guilty as Dems.

      Maybe I'm the dense one - but doesn't it make sense to address obvious and known problems before jumping off the cliff with something as complex as Obamacare - which appears to just as loaded with the same type of nonsense as mentioned above.

      I do have mostly conservative values, but I think a better label, if I need one, would be traditionalist. Too often I find myself in disagreement many so-called conservative issues. Not quite as often as with liberal issues, but enough so that I don't think Republican Conservatives would have me. :)


    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Hello, GA, thanks for your comment.

      You said : I am against Obamacare, I am against government-forced actions. I do not believe healthcare is a right of American citizens, and I do not believe the government has the legitimate authority to force acceptance of a plan like Obamacare but, I do believe healthcare provision could be moral obligation that, as the enlightened society we claim to be, we should find a way to fulfill.

      So there are people and institutions trying to find a way to support the concept of an enlightened society. While, I am not qualified to speak to this issue with authority, I do know that if something is not done, we will all be buried underneath rising costs. Conservatives, while expressing concern about the problem are basically in favor of the status quo.

      I am not hooked to Obamacare, if opening markets between states of changing Medicare is viable solution, lets do that, but let us not continue to kick the can down the road.

      You said:

      ps. as for your taxes supporting schools you don't use, that's a tired and misleading analogy - although some of your federal taxes do get used for educational funds, in essence you are not paying a specific Federal tax to support the school system. If you are paying local school taxes -you have a choice to move out of the taxing district

      RAther than being a tired analogy, it is the heart of the argument. I move out of one taxing district to another that have to fund and collectively tax for the same things. This Marlboro Man, rugged individualist persona the conservative presents is anachronistic and most annoying. We all have to pay for things that we do not necessarily receive at any specific moment or directly benifit from. Thats life!

      Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid work on such a idea, you certanly are not against any of those things?

      But, of course, the universe is looked upon differently by conservatives and progressives.....


    • GA Anderson profile image

      GA Anderson 6 years ago from USA

      @credence2 - Damn, Old poolman did it again - he addressed several points I was going to make to your response, but he got there first.

      so basically - ditto what Poolman said

      but to address a couple of your specifics - re: Denmark and Sweden - that was their choice, if it works for them and they had a choice - then fine, that's as it should be.

      re: medicare - I am not against medicare, or medicaid, but damn it. you have done it to me again, now I have another research project so I can answer more intelligently, but..

      I am against Obamacare, I am against government-forced actions. I do not believe healthcare is a right of American citizens, and I do not believe the government has the legitimate authority to force acceptance of a plan like Obamacare

      but, I do believe healthcare provision could be moral obligation that, as the enlightened society we claim to be, we should find a way to fulfill.

      I'll offer this tentative thought, and either ditch it or defend it after I look a little deeper - If medicare is working, (ok, so it needs a tune-up too), for a large block of our populace, why wouldn't some type of expansion of it work as a national healthcare plan?

      for too many people, it's either obamacare or nothing, and I don't think that is true. I think there are many other steps and options that could be pursued first. Obamacare, IMO, is a political solution, not amoral one.

      ps. as for your taxes supporting schools you don't use, that's a tired and misleading analogy - although some of your federal taxes do get used for educational funds, in essence you are not paying a specific Federal tax to support the school system. If you are paying local school taxes -you have a choice to move out of the taxing district



    • GA Anderson profile image

      GA Anderson 6 years ago from USA

      @hubber008 - welcome - it's always nice to hear a new voice. Glad you took the time to comment

      re: pre-existng conditions - that is an apples and oranges point. healthcare provision vs. healthcare insurance.

      forcing the companies of healthcare insurance in our current system of healthcare provision is like forcing auto insurance companies to sell you a policy and fix you car AFTER yo u have an accident - it's just not realistic

      but there is more to this answer, see my response to Credence2 below

      thanks again for the read and comment


      I am not completely against

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 6 years ago

      I have no problem at all with every human being having the right to "life saving" medical care regardless of ability to pay. I do have problem with the way Obamacare was shoved down our throats, and the reported issues contained in this bill that have nothing to do with medical care. Should anyone suffer or be left to die because they have no job and no money? Hell no, but as GA pointed out this is not happening now. This bill has had a great deal to do with the high unemployment rate we see today. Employers are not hiring until they see exactly what the financial effect will be on their business. This bill was primarily crafted in secrecy behind the scenes as evidenced with Pelosi's famous comment. Then many large corporations were granted waivers from the requirements of this forced medical plan, and even individual restaurant owners who were friends of politicians. My first question would be if Obamacare is such a great and wonderful thing, why would anyone not want to be included?

      I agree 100% that medical care in this country is out of control, and things need to change. I just don't think this poorly crafted bill full of hidden surprises and exemptions for some is the way to go.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      A well written article, GA. Would all you conservatives want us to go back to the idyllic world of 1796?

      "Americans that oppose Obamacare are not immoral and compassionless people, they just don't want to be forced to pay for someone needs without a choice"

      I have to pay taxes to support the public schools in the area while I have no children in school. There are many such shared obligations and responsibilities. Just because I do not use it directly does not mean they are not valid. So your statement in reality is not as unreasonable as it appears. In Denmark or Sweden what is the attitude of people there regarding health care using your argument of 'peoples right to their own time"? I wonder.....

      You have obviously done your homework as you always do. I am not the expert regarding this problem, but I do know that the status quo ain't making it. Its seems based on the tone of your article that you would be philosophically against Medicare as well?


    • hubber088 profile image

      hubber088 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      A healthcare system that is not profit-driven would probably be non functioning and dangerous. However we have to change what we have now with people being denied coverage because of things like pre-existing conditions. It' not right that people are dying because of denied coverage, especially in America.

    • Coolpapa profile image

      Coolpapa 6 years ago from Florida

      Pool an, I don't know what Medicare supplement you have but you made a bad choice somewhere down the linre. I have amending ap policy in addition to Medicare and ha not paid one PENNY for my medical care since I retired. I also have no restrictions on what Dr i see and i do not need referals. This obviously does not include drugs

    • GA Anderson profile image

      GA Anderson 6 years ago from USA

      @junko - thanks for the read - and taking the time to comment. Dialogs are important

      I agree with about the profit-driven healthcare point, but only to a point, and that is the fact that it is profit driven means the scoundrals and influence peddlers, and crooked politicians have screwed it up

      I would not want a healthcare system that was not profit-driven, or especially de-privatized. My imagination runs wild with images of 3rd world medicine and canvas cots for hospital bed.

      but drop back anytime, maybe we will find some common ground.


    • GA Anderson profile image

      GA Anderson 6 years ago from USA

      @American Romance - welcome, and thanks for the read and comment.

      Also thanks for the follow, I returned the favor, and checked out a few of your hubs, looks like we may be part of the same choir. (Old Poolman started it)


    • GA Anderson profile image

      GA Anderson 6 years ago from USA

      @old Poolman - I really enjoy your comments, but.... too often you just take the words out of my mouth, only leaving with .....ditto!

      Thanks for the read and comment


    • junko profile image

      junko 6 years ago

      GA Anderson, I think the reality of profit driven healthcare is the reason healthcare is too costly for the government and the people of America. The hospital. the doctors, the healthcare corporations and insurances companies must make more money every year. I think in time healthcare should de-privatived

    • American Romance profile image

      American Romance 6 years ago from America

      The big picture is this, Democrats want to force those that can to purchase health care, and then use tax payer funds to provide for those who can't or SAY they can't! Their overall goal is to gain votes and destroy capitalisim! Nice hub! voted up!

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 6 years ago

      GA - The often heard saying that so many have no health care just isn't true. No emergency room in this country is allowed to turn away any sick or injured person with or without insurance.

      I have Medicare and Private Insurance. Never do these two combined insurance policies pay my entire medical bill for even a routine annual physical. I still have to dip in my pocket to cover the difference. Yet an illegal resident with no insurance can get free emergency care up to and including surgery. Should they be turned away? Hell no, but you, I, and many others end up paying their bill for them. So saying we need Obama Care so everyone can get treated is a false claim.