Opinion: Healthcare is Not a Right

I’m going to lose some people here, but stick with me for a moment. There is something that deeply troubles me about assuming that healthcare should be a basic human right. I can 100%  agree that healthcare costs in the US are not manageable, fair, or reasonable and SOMETHING has to be done to make it more accessible and affordable.  And I’m talking healthcare, not just sick care. I believe people should not be strapped with crippling debt because they got cancer, had a preterm baby, or were born with genetic conditions that require expensive surgeries, ongoing specialists and medications. We have to create solutions for everyone- especially our most medically complex.

So walk with me on this thought process- it’s just a discussion, I’m okay with admitting at the end of this thing that I’m wrong. I’m just hoping to create dialogue. 

It’s sexy to say healthcare should be a universal right, but realistically, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Healthcare is expensive because the levels of innovation, the technology is cutting edge, the testing drugs go through make them non-profitable for years, the insurance providers have to account for human error, the amount of certifications and schooling of providers, and the overhead of keeping facilities operating. I think the first problem comes with assuming that healthcare providers capitalise on sick and dying people. Walk through the hospital and see how many people are employed to keep patients safe and alive. It is astounding, and therefore, expensive.

That’s all sidebar.  

If healthcare is a basic human right, then you are asking an entire population to absorb the cost of personal freedom and liberty. If I’m being asked to pay for the entire country’s healthcare, then I want massive restrictions on the lifestyle choices of people. I want very strict controls on diets, levels of exercise, drugs & alcohol, and procreation with advanced maternal age, for example- all significant contributors to some of the highest costs to the system.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Stroke, heart and lung disease, pre-term births, stroke and cancer are all significantly increased by smoking. If you would like your right to smoke, by all means smoke, but if you would like universal coverage to pay for the stroke you get as a result- that’s where your right is hurting others.

Obesity, excessive alcohol, risk-taking sexual behaviours, substance abuse, and high levels of stress also contribute to some of the highest proportions of healthcare costs. I don’t think we can let people have their cake, eat it too, and pay for their gastric bypass. Without stigmas and restraints to personal freedom, the healthcare system does not operate with good financial sense. Like any business, you have to reduce risk to the system. What are the controls?

People in my family have ongoing chronic health issues. We also have substance and drug abuse and mental health issues in my family, so I’m not sitting here as a keyboard warrior talking in ideals. I believe fully in allowing people the dignity to experience the consequences of their own behaviours: the good and bad outcomes of their choices. I’m also not implying that sick people are always responsible for their situation. That would be ignoring science. We can’t solve the unmodifiable risk factors like age, gender, race, and genetics. However, I think we could probably get a handle on healthcare costs if we significantly reduced the modifiable risk factors.

Perhaps my strongest argument is that I am not a socialist- for many reasons. I am under no grand illusion that capitalism is king, but levelling the playing field artificially, in my opinion and world view, damages human innovation, creativity, and families. This perspective has strengthened the longer I’ve been in a left-leaning culture. It dampens that inward drive to create. It robs fathers of the satisfaction of providing for their families. It minimises the significance of the role of a mother and puts less emphasis on being selective in reproductive decisions. It stifles opportunity. It is, in a large part, a major reason we are leaving the UK. It’s great if you don’t want to or cannot work, but not rewarding when you do.

The problem with saying healthcare is a human right is that you have to eat the whole enchilada. If an individual has diabetes, what good is insulin if the person cannot afford or does not comply with a strict diet? What happens when a stroke patient cannot go home because it is not accessible? The scope of healthcare is not merely medicine, doctors, and labs- it is food, nutrition, housing, transportation, and community. It would therefore have to take the place of the family, the church, the community and the individual.  I cannot see where the line can be drawn. To keep a person healthy, you have to care for their pharmacological needs, physical medicine, rehabilitation, social, emotional, psychological, physiological, and environmental needs.

All of the sudden and very quickly, the government is ultimately responsible for every aspect of a person’s life instead of the community and family and individual. That is not reasonable, sustainable, and it cripples the economy, innovation, education systems, infrastructure, and makes taxes astronomically high.

With taxes so high, the people (via the government) have to fund and subsidise even more of the costs that individuals could cover themselves like transportation, childcare, heating, and housing. The middle class is massively squeezed. The rich stay powerful. The poor stay dependent. There is little economic mobility.

*Just a side note: Not counting US health insurance costs or National Health Service payments, our family paid $20,000+ more in income taxes in the UK than we would have done in the US- not to mention all the other taxes on fuel, housing, and sales that are significantly higher.

A final thought: Healthcare is a Human Right.

 It is your right to take care of yourself- Or not.

I’ll post some details about Obama Care- just to give you an idea what it is like- particularly for my readers outside the US. I think some people are in favour or opposed to it, but haven’t actually looked at the plans.  We learned this week how complex healthcare laws are and how much people disagree about how to handle it.
Photo credit: Kathryn Earl Photography

2 thoughts on “Opinion: Healthcare is Not a Right

  1. Victo Dolore says:

    Even my patients with insurance cannot get diabetes education classes covered by their high deductible plans. $1500 for four classes. Who is gonna chose that? Hell, as a physician I wouldn’t even choose to pay that. But how can you expect people to make changes without education? Particularly when what we tell them as a society is wrong or constantly changing. Low fat, high fat, high protein, salt is evil and then no it is not. Margarine is good for you, oops sorry about those trans fats that have been killing you. When the US is the most expensive healthcare system in the world with some of the worst outcomes, something is wrong. Our system is wrong. Innovation is not the cause of sky rocketing costs or we’d have better outcomes. No system will ever be perfect but we have to do better than where we are right now.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chris says:

    We all need to take some responsibility for our actions whether that be food choices or lifestyle,although chronic illness isn’t necessarily a choice.
    in Australia we have Medicare which is for everyone and is a great safety net for vulnerable and disadvantaged people but it is exploited by people who can afford to pay their own way.
    Bottom line if you can afford to pay for private health cover,do it and don’t expect the government to pick up the bill.Take some responsibility.

    Liked by 1 person

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