Is Healthcare a Privilege or a Right?

In Politics on May 20, 2016 by thebetweenthoughts

[Note: This may be the beginning of a series of tirades against our current healthcare system…or it may not – you know how I am about blogging consistently.  I hope you’re as excited as I am about what the outcome may be.]

After years of health care reform being the top priority for both Democrats and Republicans, it’s sad that we still haven’t addressed the fundamental question of healthcare in America – is healthcare a privilege or a right?

Where you stand on that question will lead you towards the various infrastructure, regulatory, and market decisions that create a healthcare system.  For every other developed nation in the world, the answer is “right”.  The citizens of a nation are entitled to free access to healthcare at some level.  No person goes bankrupt because of their medical bills.  No person stays away from care because they can’t afford it.  No person dies because of their inability to pay for a treatment.

America, on the other hand, has chosen a different answer to that question.  We have chosen the path that seeks to profit on our health (or lack thereof).  We have chosen as a nation to allow money to dictate what level of care we receive.  And because of that, we’ve created a system that is costly and a country that lags behind others in actual health.  Our decision to let “the market” and profit drive our healthcare has led us to having one of the worst healthcare systems of all developed nations.  How is it possible that we spend so much, yet receive so little care?

[For anyone that wants to learn more about the other healthcare systems in the world, I’d recommend reading: The Healing of America, by T. R. Reid.  It’s a fascinating book that will leave you frustrated and angry about our current healthcare system…exactly how I like feeling.]

I don’t know what the solution is – it isn’t something as simple as a single payer system or the elimination of medical expense waste.  It’s more about how we think about healthcare and what we, as a nation, want out of our healthcare system.  Do we want to create a stratified world where some people aren’t able to receive care?  Do we want to encourage people to be healthy or do we value our individual freedoms so much that we would risk the health of all?  In a previous article, I made the case that it really was on us to learn more about our health and how healthcare works.  I still believe that to be the case, but now what we need to answer is if we care about the health of those around us?  Do we believe that our neighbor deserves to receive the same level of care as us?

It’s amazing that Republicans are still rallying against the Affordable Care Act, yet have no alternative to the reforms that have been in place for the last few years.  Healthcare shouldn’t be a political issue…it should be a moral one.

Every other developed country has based their healthcare system on the moral choice to make healthcare available for all of its citizens.  Are we prepared to make the same moral choice or are we destined to stand alone?





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