Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 22, 2017

Health Care: right or privilege?

By Margaret Dwyer | May 11, 2017

To the editor:

I heard an interesting discussion about potential health care legislation on the radio the other day. The conversation boiled down to whether health care is a commodity or a right.

Those who view health care as a commodity say it is something you can purchase like property or goods, if you are privileged to be able to afford it. If John Doe goes to a car dealership and wants to buy a car, he must have money or credit. If he has neither, he cannot afford a car – end of story. He has no entitlement to a car. So too, they reason, with health care.

Others feel that health care is a right, like police and fire protection, or the use of safe roads. People are not charged for police and fire protection at the point of service; these services are available to all regardless of ability to pay. Health care services should be available in the same way, they reason.

Americans have been struggling with this question for a long time, as has Congress. It is complex. There is the question of what is humane (the USA is in the minority among developed western nations in treating health care as a commodity), versus what is practical, and there are no easy answers.

It is already law that any emergency room that receives federal funds must accept and treat any critically ill person or accident victim who seeks care, regardless of his or her ability to pay for that care. Ultimately, all taxpayers pay this bill, and those with medical insurance also pay it in the form of higher premiums, etc. Would this burden be lessened if everyone had access to health care and wellness maintenance, and didn’t have to wait until a crisis occurred to seek treatment?

Where do you stand: do you think health care is a right, or a privilege? This is an important question for our national conversation.

Reach out to someone you suspect might not agree with you and discuss it. Explore each other’s values. What drives your respective viewpoints? We can’t expect Congress to get it right if we can’t even talk to each other about it.


– Margaret Dwyer, Fairfield

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