Tuesday, October 21, 2008

so, I make an incision just below the navel?

What is your opinion of health care? Is it a right?

My own opinion is that it is a need, but not a right. I think the world would be much better off if we all had access to affordable, quality health care, especially preventive care. As the situation stands, you have people who can't afford their co-pays, so they don't see a doctor until their problems have gotten drastic enough to require a hospital visit. But I get nervous when people refer to it as a right, because I don't think anything that requires the participation of another person to be a right. For you to have quality health care, you need help from someone who has the ability to provide it, and your rights do not include forcing them to provide that care. Am I making sense at all?

We may as a country take the same road we have with public education and decide that a healthy populace (like a well-educated populace) benefits society enough to merit government funding. I'm not sure how I feel about that, given the state of our public schools, but I'm willing to consider it. I really hate taxes, though. It's the libertarian in me.

So, to sum up, I think our society desperately needs better health care, but I don't want people thinking they're owed it simply because they exist. I am a fierce believer in Oliver Wendell Holmes' quote that "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins."

Our inalienable rights as described in the Declaration of Independence are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not the achievement of happiness. (Or the pursuit of property, as my AP Government teacher Mr. Bishop said it.)

But we're all grownups here, and I'd love to hear different opinions. John has broken me and turned me into someone who likes to hear all sides of an argument. I used to be so absolute!


Amy said...

I think one of the problems is health insurance. I mean, if you have to think about how much something costs, you will think long and hard about whether or not it is necessary. If it's all just a $20 co-pay, well, then, have at it. Part of the reason health care has gotten out of control is that people haven't been using their brains and thinking about it. Oh, and I think it should be illegal for drug companies to advertise. Huge pet peeve.

tipsybaker said...

Healthcare as a "right" has stopped me up before, and I've found myself thinking about it for the usual 4-5 minutes in the car while listening to NPR. I don't know. I don't think "right" is a good term and it makes me wince. But I also think it's sad/awful/embarrassing that in a wealthy country there's a good chunk of the population that can't afford to see a doctor. I've always had health insurance through work, and when I didn't I bought it, but I think I'd be willing to pay extra taxes to ensure that everyone could get it. How to make the system work, now that's a puzzle I couldn't begin to solve.

Also. . . it seems crazy to me that if you get cancer when you're 68 you're covered through Medicare, but if you get cancer and you're 38 and working and uninsured -- what happens then? I have no idea, but I assume you're in terrible, terrible trouble. That seems deeply wrong to me. So, basically, yes -- I think in a prosperous country some baseline healthcare should be a "right" for all citizens. I can see both sides, but erring on the side of generosity -- at least when talking about something as vital (and potentially fatal) as healthcare -- seems like the most decent approach. Honestly, just in the course of typing this note, I have figured out what I think, so thanks for helping me find clarity.


Layne said...

See, that's me--I've never had to go without health insurance. I will say that in our current economic situation I make sure that I really need to take myself or one of the kids to the doctor, because I hate giving up $20 just to hear they have an ear infection, like, duh, that's what I TOLD YOU.

Anyway, neither I nor anyone in my immediate family has ever had serious health problems, so I don't know that I'm really able to weigh the pros and cons of universal health care. I do know at least two readers of this blog have experience with monumental health care costs, and I hope they will chime in and offer some insight.