No, Free Health Care is NOT a Right

Kerry proclaimed last night that “health care… is a right for all Americans” and that he will “will roll back the tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals… so we can invest in health care”. So the implication here is that a) he wants to make sure everyone has guaranteed health care and b) he believes it is government’s job to provide for it.

From a practical standpoint, it has been proven that socialized healthcare has numerous problems. It is difficult to point to a single example of a country with a successful socialized health care system that is not massively subsidized by a favorable trade surplus. The problem is rising health care costs, and the higher premiums individuals pay for insurance as compared to corporations. These costs are caused by some combination of increasing drug costs, increased malpractice insurance, new coverage categories, and the lack of price competition caused by employer management of health care. None of these are fixed by moving to a single, monolithic health plan. Malpractice issues remain the same, and either expose consumers to greater risk due to the potential of citizens suing the system itself or prohibit any recourse for abuses caused by the system. Coverage areas would almost certainly balloon uncontrollably, with special interests pushing to use federal money to help people fix their obesity issues, drug addictions, and eventually cosmetic operations to improve self-image. Keeping drug costs in check would be almost impossible. Cave to the drug companies and consumer demands, and a neverending train of new and expensive drugs will keep rolling in – they will fix all sorts of problems, but at an impossible cost. Alternately, punitive attempts to keep the “evil corporation” drug companies from charging too much for medicine through price controls will be directly reflected in R&D investment, slowing the development of new drugs. I trust a free market to maintain this balance much more than ANY single entity.

From an ideological perspective, it is insane to claim that this subsidized form of health care is a right. It is insulting to suggest that ANYONE’s rights involve taking money from me and giving it to them. That’s not a right, it’s theft, it’s income redistribution. It is unadulterated, Marxian, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs!” in practice. A right to health care implies not just a right to basic health care – doctor’s visits, teeth cleanings, ob/gyn care, and antibiotics. It suggests a right to whatever treatment options are available, regardless of cost. At some point some drugs, some treatments are just too expensive. They would be too expensive for a fully, corporately-insured family, and they would make other decisions. Copayment structures and caps occasionally have unfortunate consequences, but more often, they foster a measure of restraint in making health care decisions. How will a system predicated on the idea that some people can’t afford health insurance possibly enforce significant copayment structures that will encourage people to seek necessary but not extravagant care.

How long before my tax dollars are used to pay for an abortion for someone who got pregnant “on accident”, to pay for stomach staples for overweight Americans too lazy and gluttonous to watch their diet or go jogging, to repeatedly try and detox someone who keeps returning to their drug habit, or to treat AIDS in someone who engages in risky behaviors? Certainly all of these people are free to engage in these behaviors, and free to pursue whatever treatment they feel is necessary for them. I, however, should be free from the obligation to pay for their poor decisions, and I should be obligated to pay for my own poor decisions. If I don’t brush my teeth, it’s my job to pay for fillings and root canals, and noone else’s. If I ram my car into a brick wall and break every bone in my body, that shouldn’t be your problem. (Granted, many of these issues exist in group health care as we now know it, but they would all be magnified by socialization.)

I hope that we do explore ways to reform our health care system. The costs are too high, and consumers are too detached from the health care decision-making process. Legislation should be pursued to create viable ways for groups of individuals and small businesses to purchase health care at better rates than they currently can. Lawmakers need to get out of the pocket of medical associations, trial lawyer groups, and drug manufacturers, and start worrying more about the pockets of individuals. Loosen some regulations to allow more forms of competition. Show me a functional, prospering socialist government. Compare their quality of life to ours. Point out one U.S. social program that has not rampantly exceeded its cost targets and failed remarkably to achieve its stated goal. Point out one example of socialized medicine that compares to what is being proposed that isn’t fundamentally flawed. It can’t be done, and for the sake of the taxpayers, it shouldn’t be done here.


7 thoughts on “No, Free Health Care is NOT a Right

  1. You’re examples are extremist, your reasoning elitist and your attitude reprehensible. Someday you’ll realize that just because someone is not as well off as you does not make them lesser human beings.

  2. Hey Russ, thought I might be seeing you over here, given our remarkable differences of opinion regarding U.S. politics. While parts of what I said focus on border cases, Kerry also cited extreme examples in attempting to justify the need for this program, and paragraphs 3 and 5 focus on policy, not people. Explain to me how someone’s rights should include taking someone else’s money? Further, cite examples validating this proposed policy along the lines of the last paragraph.

    A whole lot of people in this country do have health care. With reforms, it could become more accessible to more people, and I hope for that, but “free” isn’t free. “Free” costs a trillion dollars.

  3. *sigh* Just when you think you have got through another day without coming across someone with an ignorant, elitist, selfish opinion..

    Healthcare can be free. It has NOT been proven that it cannot work at all. It may not make money for the government, but last time I checked pretty much everything the government does in the interests of making society better will lose money (hence the need for taxes). If you think the “pay or else” system is in any way defendable then you are fooling yourself. There’s no reason an accident should mean that a person ends up in thousands of dollars of debt in order for their life to be saved. There’s also no reason why you should be forced to save up to pay for medical treatment to allow you lead a life without pain.

    Try showing a little compassion. You pick out a couple of specific cases and then tar the whole collective needs of the community with the “I shouldn’t have to pay for it” attitude.

    But let’s examine the cases you pointed out: You don’t want to pay for abortions, so how about someone who is raped? Or someone who has a condom break? Or hell, how about someone who makes a mistake and has unprotected sex (or have you never made a mistake in your life?). By your attitude those people should be denied treatment. The obesity thing: what of the cases where people an actual medical condition that prevents their metabolism from functioning properly?

    You want a country to compare your so called “quality of life” to: try Australia. I noticed your linked article doesn’t mention Australia anywhere because it is a system that works as a safety net to provide care for those in need. We don’t have this notion of “I don’t have medical insurance, what am I going to do?” because quite frankly it would be a sorry state of affairs to be denying a person in need of medical attention because they cannot pay.

    I can however give you numerous third world countries which share a similar approach to your idea that user pays or else user doesn’t get treated.

    Fair enough things like non-essential plastic surgery.. But those things aren’t covered under Australian medicare anyhow (and I wouldn’t think would be covered under Kerry’s proposal either). It’s just common sense. But if has an expensive to treat condition but is not fortunate enough to have enough money to afford the treatment, by your logic they’re on their own. Or if someone is out of work, or in a low income job, or retired..

    I imagine it is rather easy for you to take this selfish stance, I’m sure you currently have medical insurance. That’s not a problem, you have private cover, then you can use that to reduce the burden on the public system.

    The notion of free health cover for essential medical needs is not a fundamentally flawed idea, and it should be a right for a member of any good society to expect medical help when needed. Taking back some of the money from those most able to afford it and providing a safety net for those who can’t afford it is a fantastic idea.

    But you say:
    “From an ideological perspective, it is insane to claim that this subsidized form of health care is a right.It is insulting to suggest that ANYONE’s rights involve taking money from me and giving it to them. That’s not a right, it’s theft, it’s income redistribution.”

    Do you currently pay taxes? Last time I checked that was a form of income redistribution: taking a portion of salary from each person in sociey and spending it on the government/infrastructure and other supporting systems of the society. Is that theft? Well, it’s theft in the same way as your attitude is murder (“sorry: you can’t pay.. please go bleed to death in the gutter, so we can treat the guy behind you waving the credit card”)

    Do you also think that education should be denied from anyone who cannot afford to pay a bucket load of cash? Or that the police should only arrest people when the person harmed can pay for the jail sentence? Or perhaps firefighters will get the owner of the burning house to swipe their credit card before they get the hoses out? I mean that’s fair enough isn’t it? Why should you pay for it, it’s not you that got beaten up, or had your house burn down! That’d be theft to provide those services to those people!

    The unfortunate side affect of your approach is that the poor will stay poor, will have a miserable quality of life, will die younger and will be denied the basic rights to a life without pain and suffering.

    Just so you know, my opinion is from the viewpoint of someone who has grown up in a country with free essential healthcare and I find it hard to imagine a situation where people are turned away when in need or a situation where people would even think of holding your opinion. Perhaps that’s a “shortcoming” of my upbringing to believe that a society should provide support those who are not lucky enough to be earning tonnes of cash.

    If you don’t like Kerry, then fine.. That’s one thing. But at least do yourself the favour of finding a more intelligent viewpoint to argue rather than this selfish “I’m not paying for anyone else to receive medical help” attitude.

    Nathan Lee

  4. Kinda disappointing to see this extremist right wing view on a place other than Usenet.
    The quality of life for the not as fortunate is vastly better in a more social society. Survival of the fittest will only suit when you’re in the winning league. So long as noone abuses it, myself, I have no problem paying into something where I can be rest assured that I won’t have friends and family knocking on my door begging for surgery money.
    I suggest you carefully reconsider your views.

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