Health Care Is Not A Right

Most proponents of universal health insurance coverage believe health care is a right. Nothing could be further from the truth. Of course people have a right to seek healthcare but they don’t have a right to healthcare.  There is a world of difference between the two concepts.

If medical treatment is a right, than what exactly does that mean? Does it mean that your neighbors, through taxation,  are obligated to  pay for your health care or that anyone can demand that government pay for your hospitalization, your prescription drugs or for specialty care like face lifts?  Does it mean that you can walk into any doctor’s office, healthcare facility or hospital and demand  to be treated?

Forcing one person to serve another person is the very essence of slavery. The essence of freedom is the right to live your life any way you choose, so long as your conduct is peaceful.  While you  have a right to seek out doctors and other healthcare professionals for treatment but you have no right to force them do treat you, personally or through the coercive apparatus of government.   That’s why the Declaration of Independence refers to the pursuit of happiness rather than happiness itself as a fundamental, God-given right.

You have the right to seek happiness but you don’t have the right to happiness, which would imply that others have some sort of legal obligation to provide you with things that make you happy.

All rights possessed by an individual imply a duty on the part of others. The right to a fair trial imposes a duty on the prosecuting authority to be fair and a jury to judge your guilt or innocence based solely on evidence presented.    On whom does the duty to provide health care to all the world’s citizens fall?  Is it a duty on individual doctors, or hospital authorities, or governments, or only rich governments?  Wouldn’t such an entitlement impose an intolerable burden on others?

To propose that health care is a human right is insane.   Of course it is a necessity of life, just like water, food, clothing,  and shelter.   Yet no one is demanding universal “food care” or universal “government housing. ”   The critical issue is that people expect access to food, shelter, and clothing. Americans expect choices and competition when they shop for these necessities of life.

If food, clothing, and shelter were paid for and regulated by the government,  we would have overutilization, fewer choices, and a limited supply.  Look at Venezuela or Cuba!   It is the private system, the free market that guarantees access, choice and competitive prices.  The free-market system is efficient, voluntary, and fair.

The critical point is utilizing the best mechanism to allow the greatest number of Americans access to health care. The Canadian single-payer system does not guarantee timely access. The American experience with the Veterans Administration hospital system, a comprehensive government-controlled, single-payer health care program, reveals unacceptable wait times and huge inefficiencies. Fundamentally, these systems ration health care by waiting lists and limited money. The quality of care can be variable.

Because of budgetary constraints, the demand for health care is much greater than the supply in virtually every county with a government-controlled health care system. Even Medicare and Medicaid are  essentially  single-payer plans controlled by bureaucracy and neither is financially sustainable.

Just like in all other economic activities, the free-market offers the best solution to provide the greatest access to health care and to control costs. People freely making their own health care decisions and using their own health care dollars would give Americans the best chance to utilize their “right” to access health care, with safety-net health programs provided for those who can’t afford it.

At the end of the day, health care is an economic activity like any other, albeit with the most personal of interactions between patient and provider. Society should work toward putting patients in charge of their health care, reducing the role of government, and focusing on access, not health care as a supposed “right.”

Source:  There is no right to healthcare by  Jacob G. Hornberger; Health care is not a human right, by Philip Barlow, Consultant neurosurgeon; Why health care is not a ‘right’ by Roger Stark, policy analyst for Washington Policy Center’s Center for Health Care. JC

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