Healthcare is a Duty, not a “Right”

Sadly, in the heat of the argument, some subtle distinctions concerning the nature of healthcare are being lost on those vociferously arguing for a “universal healthcare plan”.  One such distinction is the difference between a duty and a right.

In spite of claims made by my opponents, I have never argued that people should be denied healthcare.  Christ came to heal the sick.  I’ve even posted earlier that we DO have universal emergency healthcare, and it is appropriate to have it. Nor have I ever stated that healthcare should be denied to individuals.  Though in a world of finite resources, there MUST be limits on healthcare–dictated by what a society is able to provide.  One of my main problems with those willing to “tax the rich” to provide universal healthcare is their hypocrisy; even an American making $24,000 a year is vastly more wealthy than the third of humanity that subsists on $1 a day.

If we ethically follow the argument that those with more should/can have their livelihoods taken from them to provide for the “have nots”, every single American should have the majority of their income taken from them.  Shortly thereafter, the medical advances provided by innovation and wealth will disappear, and the quality of care for all will swiftly decline.  Allowing wealth and providing a reward and incentives for hard work and innovation are the very things which make progress and better standards of living possible for all.

There are many charitable organizations that help people afford care they cannot finance on their own (St. Vincent De Paul Society, for one).

There are already protections in law that prevent medical service providers from seizing your assets to cover the cost of expensive medical treatments.  As long as you are paying something monthly (even a miniscule amount), healthcare providers cannot seize assets or wealth.

With permission from the author (Stuart Miller), I’ve included some observations that shed further clarity on the debate:

Many of the arguments used in conjunction with the various ObamaPlans bear similarities to reprehensible, high-pressure sales tactics:

1. We must pass this health care bill NOW! Don’t bother researching it or reading the fine print!

2. Salesman wants the best for you: We have to take care of you with this stimulus plan, this health care plan (you can’t take care of yourself without this).

3. Fear-mongering: If we don’t do this, disaster will strike, people will die.

4. You can’t afford NOT to buy this: Ignore the $1 Trillion+ cost and any economic analysis, ignore the fact that we’re already totally bankrupt and you and your children are effectively debtors enslaved to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

5. Get on the bandwagon. All the rest of the developed world is doing it.  Forget the fact that many of them are moving from universal healthcare back to private plans.  You don’t need to analyze how they’re doing it, cultural factors that change the healthcare equation, or discover why our system is better at creating new forms of better treatment than others.

6. Your current product is not just too expensive, it’s bad for you. Distort those infant mortality rates! Ignore the fact that we have the most medical research and have routinely produced more Nobel laureates in Medicine than all other countries combined!

8. Only wackos reject this. Anyone who questions these policies is an idiot and a fringe, radical right wing, racist, rich, poor-people-hating, greedy corporate villain conspiring against our president, a president who loves you and lives only to do what is best (in his godlike knowledge) for you.

9. You deserve this/you’re entitled to it. Healthcare is a right, and you have a right to socialized, government-provided healthcare.

This last is perhaps the most dangerous. The others are shameless, blatantly-deceptive, morally-reprehensible, argumentatively-fallacious sales tactics. The belief in a “right” to health care, however, undermines all true rights and the very foundations of our country. It also taints and distorts any discussion about the role and power of government and the foundations of human morality.

No health care is a “right,” in the sense of intrinsic/basic human rights like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  It is a moral duty for us to attempt to provide reasonable healthcare as widely and fairly as possible. It is not a “right,” nor can it ever be. Health care requires one person to provide a service (which they spent great time, effort, and money to make available) to another person. No “right” can require another person to perform a service for you. You have no “right” to another person’s skill and labor. If you did, then it would be a right to own a slave.

Claiming a “right” to health care makes slaves of healthcare professionals (indeed, the party in power has proposed many policies placing demands upon healthcare professionals). Even worse, socialized healthcare also enslaves citizens to labor in order to pay for the healthcare of others and puts the decisions and control over an entire population in the hands of a few people with the power to use force, fines, or imprisonment against you. What better way to exert control than to make every last citizen dependent upon you for their very health and life?