Healthcare is not a right!?

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Submitted by greekfire on December 19, 2009 - 11:16am

I thought I'd kick off another debate on healthcare. Most discussions focus on how and why the government should administer healthcare, rather than whether healthcare is a right or not.

Here's the Libertarian viewpoint as espoused by Judge Andrew Napolitano:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nyJs-IdNz0

Submitted by NeetaT on December 19, 2009 - 1:46pm.

In my opinion, healthcare is not a right. Healthcare is a service that is priced via supply and demand just like other goods and services. No one will ever agree with me, but I know that if there was no such thing as health insurance, prices for health services would adjust to average income, thus more people could afford it out of pocket. Those who claim they can't afford healthcare costs are the same people who can somehow find a way to buy a new car or go on a lavish vacation. All I can say is please “Kill the Bill” so that I am not fleeced for more taxes. I will gladly pay for my own healthcare thank you.

Submitted by sjglaze3 on December 19, 2009 - 2:59pm.

I guess I'll be the contrarian here. I see basic healthcare as a right, in much the same way that I see the fire service, lifeguards, the police, the law courts, primary school eduction and even the military as a right. It is something I expect the government to provide for my protection as part of living in society, in exchange for paying taxes. I should mention I grew up in England, where the NHS is seen very much as another emergency service, such as fire and police. I find it so odd that we expect the fire service and police to protect our stuff for free but if anything happens to our bodies, we're on our own. When did a house become more valuable than a person? Just my perspective.

Submitted by mike92104 on December 19, 2009 - 3:29pm.

Police and Fire Depts. are not free, but at least they are (for the most part) local organizations. The healthcare bill is just a huge debacle, and I can't support having the government in control of it where it will be hugely politicized every election year.

Submitted by patb on December 19, 2009 - 7:49pm.

Health care isn't a right, but it isn't a private good.

In order to be a private good it must be a market good, and I can easily argue that health care isn't a market good

now wether it's a public good or a club good,
it has the character that the public is best served by

Are we well served with private ambulances? or Fire Department ambulances?

Submitted by davelj on December 19, 2009 - 7:49pm.

sjglaze3 wrote:
I see basic healthcare as a right, in much the same way that I see the fire service, lifeguards, the police, the law courts, primary school eduction and even the military as a right.

Define "basic health care." Does "basic" include a bone marrow transplant with a 10% chance of long-term success? Does basic include a $250K brain surgery that will likely extend life for one year?

The health care situation is a real conundrum. Under the private insurance regime that we have in the US, health care costs will continue to escalate at a high rate as long as (1) technology (and procedures and cures) advances, and (2) there is no one willing or able to compel folks to make difficult choices.

Likewise, under a Canadian-style universal system, basic health care is quite good and very inexpensive. The problem, of course, is that "complicated" procedures and cures get rationed much more so than in the US. So, as long as you don't have a really difficult health problem - which applies to probably 75% of the population - then the universal system is a great deal. But if you do wind up with a complicated problem and you haven't supplemented your health care with private insurance, you're in for tough times.

The problem is that everyone wants to have their cake and eat it too - universal coverage, everything covered, and inexpensive. That, my friends, is impossible. There's no free lunch.

I consider myself a Libertarian Realist, which is that I believe that in the vast majority of cases the market does a good job of allocating resources. However, not in all cases. Our health care system is rife with perverse incentives that cause costs to escalate far beyond anything rational. So, I would support some very basic version of universal care so that everyone in the country got some basic level of care. This would be plenty for the vast majority of the folks out there. And it would be much cheaper than the current system. Then, anyone who wanted to supplement the government plan with private insurance to cover potential complications could, of course, do so. But, to use an example, the poor child without supplemental insurance that comes down with leukemia doesn't get a bone marrow transplant under "my" system. S/he's shit out of luck. That's for folks with the resources to pay. File under: Life's not fair.

Submitted by mike92104 on December 19, 2009 - 9:31pm.

I wonder if we should go the opposite route. Basic health care is the individuals responsibility. No insurance, just straight out of pocket. That way everybody has to consider the cost of everything. If you should get some awful disease that couldn't be directly linked to poor lifestyle choices, and couldn't afford the treatment, the the govt plan could cover you.

Submitted by no_such_reality on December 19, 2009 - 9:51pm.

mike92104 wrote:
I wonder if we should go the opposite route. Basic health care is the individuals responsibility. No insurance, just straight out of pocket. That way everybody has to consider the cost of everything. If you should get some awful disease that couldn't be directly linked to poor lifestyle choices, and couldn't afford the treatment, the the govt plan could cover you.

Everything can be thought of as a poor lifestyle choice, especially living basically anyplace in SoCal where you have frequent unhealthy air, unhealthy commutes, and too much stress.

Submitted by sdduuuude on December 19, 2009 - 9:54pm.

The problem is this - when you say that something is a "right" when that right requires someone else to adminster it, you are, by logic, depriving those who must administer it of their freedom.

You must, logically, force someone to provide healthcare - a prospect I believe is unethical.

I don't believe we are born with any "positive" rights - or rights that require depriving someone else of their freedom.

Submitted by SK in CV on December 19, 2009 - 10:08pm.

NeetaT wrote:
Those who claim they can't afford healthcare costs are the same people who can somehow find a way to buy a new car or go on a lavish vacation. All I can say is please “Kill the Bill” so that I am not fleeced for more taxes. I will gladly pay for my own healthcare thank you.

Dude, what world are you living in? 45,000 people die every year in this country because they don't have medical insurance. 10's of thousand go bankrupt. Nobody is trading a cruise for their life.

Submitted by Allan from Fallbrook on December 19, 2009 - 10:40pm.

SK in CV wrote:
NeetaT wrote:
Those who claim they can't afford healthcare costs are the same people who can somehow find a way to buy a new car or go on a lavish vacation. All I can say is please “Kill the Bill” so that I am not fleeced for more taxes. I will gladly pay for my own healthcare thank you.

Dude, what world are you living in? 45,000 people die every year in this country because they don't have medical insurance. 10's of thousand go bankrupt. Nobody is trading a cruise for their life.

SK: And another 100,000 die per year due to medical accidents, improper treatments, etc. So, what's your point?

Something else to consider: When in the history of this country has the government ever compelled its citizenry to comply with an order (buy health insurance) or face fines/sanctions? This is as authoritarian/autocratic as it comes and very few people seem all that outraged by this.

Submitted by mike92104 on December 19, 2009 - 10:51pm.

no_such_reality wrote:
mike92104 wrote:
I wonder if we should go the opposite route. Basic health care is the individuals responsibility. No insurance, just straight out of pocket. That way everybody has to consider the cost of everything. If you should get some awful disease that couldn't be directly linked to poor lifestyle choices, and couldn't afford the treatment, the the govt plan could cover you.

Everything can be thought of as a poor lifestyle choice, especially living basically anyplace in SoCal where you have frequent unhealthy air, unhealthy commutes, and too much stress.

Well then I guess nobody qualifies. Seriously though, I think most people understand what I meant. One example would be a smoker who has developed lung cancer.

Remember that the #1 cause of death is life.

Submitted by an on December 19, 2009 - 11:19pm.

SK in CV wrote:
NeetaT wrote:
Those who claim they can't afford healthcare costs are the same people who can somehow find a way to buy a new car or go on a lavish vacation. All I can say is please “Kill the Bill” so that I am not fleeced for more taxes. I will gladly pay for my own healthcare thank you.

Dude, what world are you living in? 45,000 people die every year in this country because they don't have medical insurance. 10's of thousand go bankrupt. Nobody is trading a cruise for their life.


936,923 people die every year from Major Cardiovasular Diseases.
553,091 people die every year from Malignant Neoplasms (Cancer).
69,301 people die every year from Diabetes Mellitus.
65,313 people die every year from the flu/Pneumonia.
43,354 people die every year from Motor Vehicle Accidents.

These are statistics gathered from 2002. Those numbers are probably higher today. Putting the 45k number into perspective. Wouldn't it save more lives by forcing people to eat better and exercise to stamp out obesity? 58 million are overweight, 40 million are obese, 3 million are morbidly obese. 8 out of 10 over 25's are overweight.

Obesity Related Diseases

* 80% of type II diabetes related to obesity
* 70% of Cardiovascular disease related to obesity
* 42% breast and colon cancer diagnosed among obese individuals
* 30% of gall bladder surgery related to obesity
* 26% of obese people having high blood pressure

This also ties into mike92104's idea. 8 out of 10 people over 25 wouldn't qualify because they are overweight.

Submitted by PDQ on December 20, 2009 - 12:40am.

NeetaT wrote:
In my opinion, healthcare is not a right. Healthcare is a service that is priced via supply and demand just like other goods and services. No one will ever agree with me, but I know that if there was no such thing as health insurance, prices for health services would adjust to average income, thus more people could afford it out of pocket. Those who claim they can't afford healthcare costs are the same people who can somehow find a way to buy a new car or go on a lavish vacation. All I can say is please “Kill the Bill” so that I am not fleeced for more taxes. I will gladly pay for my own healthcare thank you.

Let me guess: You have insurance supplied by your employer and/or you have no health issues, right?

Were you older with heart disease or some other "pre-existing condition" that rendered health insurance unaffordable you might feel differently.

Hopefully when you grow up and have a family you won't have any children with health problems either. Having to fight for coverage for a child born with a health condition is no fun.

But I'm sure you're young, buff and vital so that's no issue for you. Be sure to marry well to someone else who's young, strong and healthy. And if any of your children appear to be defective while in the womb, just abort them. The "master race" and all.

Oh...did I mention that you couldn't have any pre-existing conditions like injuries from skiing, or athletic activities? If you work for a small business (and you sound like a big proponent of self-sufficiency and small business) you won't be able to get coverage for "pre-existing" conditions. That would mean you'd actually have to pay for your own healthcare!!!!

But I'm sure you already know all of that seeing as how you're an insurance expert

Submitted by moneymaker on December 20, 2009 - 10:37am.

" Does basic include a $250K brain surgery that will likely extend life for one year?"

This is really the crux of the problem. Why should it cost $250,000 FOR AN OPERATION? I KNOW HEART BYPASS OPERATIONS ARE ALSO EXHORBITANTLY EXPENSIVE, why? I know many people will say it's because of medical malpractice insurance, are our doctors that incompetent, I don't think so but maybe I am wrong. Antbody out there care to explain why an operation can cost in the neighborhood of $100,000? I don't get it!

Submitted by NeetaT on December 20, 2009 - 10:43am.

"Were you older with heart disease or some other "pre-existing condition" that rendered health insurance unaffordable you might feel differently."

No insurance company should have to be forced to cover someone with a pre-existing condition. That's like forcing someone to place a bet on the worst game in the casino. If someone in my community is facing hard times and can't afford medical treatment, I will be more than happy to donate funds along with others in the community. I am a compassionate person, but when it comes to more taxation, I have to draw the line.

Submitted by blahblahblah on December 20, 2009 - 10:50am.

Something else to consider: When in the history of this country has the government ever compelled its citizenry to comply with an order (buy health insurance) or face fines/sanctions? This is as authoritarian/autocratic as it comes and very few people seem all that outraged by this.

Let's see:

1) Purchase auto insurance or face fines.

2) Pay state/federal income taxes or face fines and or jail.

3) Pay property taxes or face fines.

4) When the draft is active, join military service or face fines and or jail.

I can go on and on but I won't.

Not saying this healthcare bill is good. It isn't, it's just a giveaway to the insurance companies and isn't going to help anyone get better care.

We are all doomed.

Return to your discussion.

Submitted by NeetaT on December 20, 2009 - 11:06am.

"Not saying this healthcare bill is good. It isn't, it's just a giveaway to the insurance companies and isn't going to help anyone get better care."

Do you really think this will benefit the insurance companies? The last I heard, was that the insurance industry is fighting the bill.

Submitted by blahblahblah on December 20, 2009 - 11:19am.

Do you really think this will benefit the insurance companies? The last I heard, was that the insurance industry is fighting the bill.

They are fighting anything that will prevent them from doing business as usual or anything that will lower their payout from uncle sam. They definitely want a healthcare bill, since it will force more people to purchase their useless insurance. They just don't want anything in the bill that will make them have to pay claims or actually provide a useful service.

Submitted by all on December 20, 2009 - 11:46am.

AN wrote:
SK in CV wrote:
NeetaT wrote:
Those who claim they can't afford healthcare costs are the same people who can somehow find a way to buy a new car or go on a lavish vacation. All I can say is please “Kill the Bill” so that I am not fleeced for more taxes. I will gladly pay for my own healthcare thank you.

Dude, what world are you living in? 45,000 people die every year in this country because they don't have medical insurance. 10's of thousand go bankrupt. Nobody is trading a cruise for their life.


936,923 people die every year from Major Cardiovasular Diseases.
553,091 people die every year from Malignant Neoplasms (Cancer).
69,301 people die every year from Diabetes Mellitus.
65,313 people die every year from the flu/Pneumonia.
43,354 people die every year from Motor Vehicle Accidents.

These are statistics gathered from 2002. Those numbers are probably higher today. Putting the 45k number into perspective. Wouldn't it save more lives by forcing people to eat better and exercise to stamp out obesity? 58 million are overweight, 40 million are obese, 3 million are morbidly obese. 8 out of 10 over 25's are overweight.

Obesity Related Diseases

* 80% of type II diabetes related to obesity
* 70% of Cardiovascular disease related to obesity
* 42% breast and colon cancer diagnosed among obese individuals
* 30% of gall bladder surgery related to obesity
* 26% of obese people having high blood pressure

This also ties into mike92104's idea. 8 out of 10 people over 25 wouldn't qualify because they are overweight.

We all have to die. The best you can do is to move (dead) people from one category to another.

Submitted by Allan from Fallbrook on December 20, 2009 - 12:27pm.

CONCHO wrote:
Something else to consider: When in the history of this country has the government ever compelled its citizenry to comply with an order (buy health insurance) or face fines/sanctions? This is as authoritarian/autocratic as it comes and very few people seem all that outraged by this.

Let's see:

1) Purchase auto insurance or face fines.

2) Pay state/federal income taxes or face fines and or jail.

3) Pay property taxes or face fines.

4) When the draft is active, join military service or face fines and or jail.

I can go on and on but I won't.

Not saying this healthcare bill is good. It isn't, it's just a giveaway to the insurance companies and isn't going to help anyone get better care.

We are all doomed.

Return to your discussion.

CONCHO: Well, given that the draft isn't active and hasn't been for a long while, it isn't applicable.

Property taxes and auto insurance also don't fit the bill, since those are local and state issues, not federal, and federal income tax isn't the same, either.

My argument had to do solely with being forced to purchase a federally mandated product or face the risk of sanction. This is nothing like having to pay federal income taxes (which isn't a product at all). While I'm sure you do indeed have plenty of examples, I'd be willing to bet none are like this one, because this is a first.

And, no, this health care bill isn't good. As with all things Obama, we're finding out more and more that he is woefully unprepared for the tasks he has undertaken.

If you want an interesting read, Google the "Oldspeak" interview with Nat Hentoff. Very enlightening. And, for all the Leftists who will cry foul that Hentoff is some sort of Rightist stooge: Not even close. Hentoff is a hugely respected scholar of the Constitution, and an expert on civil liberties. He finds Obama even more frightening than Dubya, which should send us all fleeing for Canada (where at least we'd get better health care, right?)

Submitted by SK in CV on December 20, 2009 - 12:40pm.

Allan from Fallbrook wrote:
SK in CV wrote:
NeetaT wrote:
Those who claim they can't afford healthcare costs are the same people who can somehow find a way to buy a new car or go on a lavish vacation. All I can say is please “Kill the Bill” so that I am not fleeced for more taxes. I will gladly pay for my own healthcare thank you.

Dude, what world are you living in? 45,000 people die every year in this country because they don't have medical insurance. 10's of thousand go bankrupt. Nobody is trading a cruise for their life.

SK: And another 100,000 die per year due to medical accidents, improper treatments, etc. So, what's your point?

Something else to consider: When in the history of this country has the government ever compelled its citizenry to comply with an order (buy health insurance) or face fines/sanctions? This is as authoritarian/autocratic as it comes and very few people seem all that outraged by this.

My point was exactly what i said. There is no evidence people without insurance are spending that money on new cars and lavish vacations. People without insurance are dying and seeking bankruptcy protection at astounding levels.

Your point about the mandate is valid. And there is quite a bit of outrage about it from both the right and the left, everywhere except for the mainstream media. The current senate bill is a windfall for the insurance industry, further evidence of the financial industry's grip on our government. A mandate without a public option, plus aid to pay for premiums is beyond their wildest wet dream.

Submitted by NeetaT on December 20, 2009 - 1:18pm.

Fantastic everyone; welcome to the wonderful world of hedging. When oil prices were peaking, I invested in oil companies and made a lot of money with the intent of hedging against higher gas prices. This is a wonderful situation. The insurance companies procuring a win-fall. Now I can invest in health insurance companies to offset the price of health care. See, we all have options. Remember the hackneyed expression, "if you can't beat them, join them." What an opportunity!!!!!

Submitted by Carl Veritas on December 20, 2009 - 1:33pm.

Your right ends where someone else's right begins.

No one should go hungry, but ---

Since the government does not produce anything, it must take away the farmers right to his property (in this case, food he produced) and give it to you, if you declare that everyone has a right to eat. That is not social cooperation, it's coercion.

That goes for health care too.

In the beginning of the 20th century, 90 percent of the nations hospitals were private, for-profit enterprises. State and local governments began taking over the hospital industry that by early 1990s only 10 percent were private. T.DiLorenzo

http://mises.org/story/3793

Submitted by urbanrealtor on December 20, 2009 - 1:40pm.

I don't think health care is a right.
However, basic survival-oriented and educational public goods are a practical necessity in non-poor countries.
To that extent, it is a government responsibility.
I also think that increasing the efficiency of the distribution of public goods is a responsibility.
Right now we have universal health care.
Anybody showing up at an ER in the US gets treated regardless of income.
That is universal, often publicly subsidized, and very inefficient.
People in this country can't really starve either.
The only people who starve here are people who have some true disability (like mental illness) or actually desire to starve (like supermodels).
We just make it uncomfortable to live on the dole (fill out these 6 forms then stand in a line for a an hour and then you get 2 loaves of bread and a brick of cheese).
Just as there is no real option for letting poor people starve, there is no real option for letting injured and sick people die for lack of cash.

Therefore, this is really about the following issues:
-how to minimize outlays from government and institutions currently providing that inefficient health care (thus improving the bottom line of hospitals, government entities, and other payers)
-about how to minimize personal bankruptcies (or just general financial burden) associated with insufficient coverage (thus improving global consumer effective demand)
-giving US companies a comparative advantage over their foreign competitors who enjoy more efficient and/or subsidized healthcare (part, though only part, of the reason our companies are currently seeing waning competitiveness)

Also, to Allan's concern about authoritarianism in the form of required insurance:

1: How is representative democratic legislation "authoritarian"?
2: How is this different from being required to pay unemployment insurance (or having that as an employer-cost associated with you) or paying retirement insurance (social security)?

The purpose of any government is the welfare of its people and right now the inefficiencies in US healthcare have created a self-reinforcing economic burden upon the country. I think that, as a fix, this is an acceptable option.

Submitted by Allan from Fallbrook on December 20, 2009 - 2:59pm.

Dan: The problem is, we're a representative democracy in name only.

When you look at the amount of money that the Obama campaign received from Wall Street, including Goldman Sachs, it becomes difficult to argue that he isn't beholden to them and their interests.

Similarly, the bill that's before us today is so rife with political self-dealing, compromise(s) and back room fixes, as to be unrecognizable from the original goal of "reform". There is no reform here, just more of the same.

A very capable political theorist (and I don't remember his name) opined that, once government becomes riven by partisanship, lobbyists and corrupted by money, it calcifies and is thus unable to fulfill its role as advocate and protector of the citizenry. I believe we're there now.

As a sidebar, Dan, I do highly recommend that "Oldspeak" interview with Hentoff. I've been a huge fan of Nat's for years, and I used to follow him closely in the Village Voice. He isn't shrill or strident in his denunciations of Obama, but makes the case in measured tones. Definitely worth a read.

Submitted by blahblahblah on December 20, 2009 - 3:23pm.

My argument had to do solely with being forced to purchase a federally mandated product or face the risk of sanction.

What about SSDI? That stands for Social Security and Disability INSURANCE. Try not paying it sometime and see what happens to you. It's not a tax, it is a federal insurance program that we all must comply with by law. You can't opt out.

The only difference between SSDI and this new healthcare scam is that the money will go straight to corporations rather than into a public trust.

Submitted by Allan from Fallbrook on December 20, 2009 - 3:29pm.

CONCHO wrote:
My argument had to do solely with being forced to purchase a federally mandated product or face the risk of sanction.

What about SSDI? That stands for Social Security and Disability INSURANCE. Try not paying it sometime and see what happens to you. It's not a tax, it is a federal insurance program that we all must comply with by law. You can't opt out.

The only difference between SSDI and this new healthcare scam is that the money will go straight to corporations rather than into a public trust.

CONCHO: You're right and I agree. I also agree with the use of the word "scam" to describe the new health care bill. This thing is a hot mess and getting worse, as is the situation in Washington.

Now, I know I'll be accused of partisanship here, but, across the board, things seem to be getting a lot worse and not better. The answer to everything seems to be to allow the Big Government theocrats full rein and just go along with the scam, as the printing presses keep running and Prez Barry assures us, as do Bernanke and the fools in Congress, that all is well and not to fear.

I don't know about you, but I can't recall feeling this uneasy about the state of this country.

Submitted by pertinazzio on December 20, 2009 - 9:28pm.

anything that costs money can't be a right. for instance the poorest possible society can grant all their citizens the right to free speech, association, religion etc. no matter how poor the society, the citizens can still have exercise those rights. on the other hand if in very poor societies you grant a right to universal high quality education, health-care, nutrition no will be able to exercise their so-called rights for a lack of resouces. now a society may decide that decency requires it to give all citizens health care, a job, etc. but that supposes society has the wherewithall to provide those things. Real rights are independent of society's wealth.

Submitted by patb on December 20, 2009 - 9:38pm.

Carl Veritas wrote:
Your right ends where someone else's right begins.

No one should go hungry, but ---

Since the government does not produce anything,

The government produces nothing?

By Definition the government produces public goods
ranging from parks to sidewalks to national defense.

The free market sure didn't produce I-5.

Submitted by ucodegen on December 20, 2009 - 10:13pm.

The government produces nothing?

By Definition the government produces public goods
ranging from parks to sidewalks to national defense.

The free market sure didn't produce I-5.

You need to produce better examples.

*Parks are public owned property, not a produced good. The maintenance of said property is a service.. though now they have individual fees on such parks which were initially provided by through general taxes.

*not all sidewalks are done by the gov. I fact, most are done by the property owner as a requirement... as well as roads in many places. This is why you will often see sidewalks, curbs and roads in the middle of new developments before the houses are completed yet.

*national defense.. is a service not a good.

*I-15 was contracted out.. it was not build by the government.. as with virtually all highway work.

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