Research Paper: Health Care: Right or Privilege?

Pages: 10 (2910 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Healthcare  ·  Buy This Paper

Health care -- a right or a privilege?

The topic of health care is an extremely controversial one in the U.S., as most people are uncertain whether it is a right or if it is a privilege. The majority of people residing in the country are inclined to believe that health care is actually a privilege. The subject is typically misunderstood because individuals relate to the Constitution when coming across the expression "health care," thinking that the document guarantees health care for everyone. People in the U.S. are endowed with the right of exploiting the privilege of health care and it solely depends on their decisions and responsibility if they want to exercise this right.

The Founding Fathers reached a conclusion regarding how divinity has presented people with "certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" (Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776).

While the rights to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness are somewhat instantly recognizable, it is actually difficult to decide on exactly what the right to life refers to. In an attempt to interpret this right, certain people have claimed that it is related to the right to health care. However, these people failed to understand that capitalism is basically focused on the relationship between money and services. The value of health care services is thus equivalent to the value of the money one pays.

One of the first health care proposals in the U.S. was an 1854 act that asked permission from the federal government regarding the building of several asylum institutions for individuals who were incapable of sustaining themselves because they were handicapped. It rapidly became obvious however that the federal government was not willing to cooperate in a matter that involved social welfare, as President Franklin Pierce rejected the proposal claiming that he would not support the bill, since he believed that state authorities should be concerned about this situation (McReynolds). It took more than seventy years for the federal government to get engaged in the health care reform, during the New Deal program and most probably as a result of the Great Depression. The government experienced notable progress over the years and officials were actually showing signs of wanting to extend health care so that it would involve more people and that it would sooner or later applied to the general public in the country (Heirich, 1998, p. 46).

In spite of the fact that the health care policy had become intensely debated among government officials, it was still uncertain if it would be made available to the masses or if it was solely meant to provide assistance to particular groups. People were unable to determine whether health care was a right or if it was a privilege. Most related to how the government should only be responsible for guaranteeing health care for poor communities, since it was absurd for it to provide for everyone in the country regardless of their social status.

Wilbur Mills, who was a member of Congress in 1965, took advantage of his position and devised the Medicare and Medicaid health care programs, with the former declaring that health care was a right for the elderly while the latter stated that health care was a privilege for individuals who were unable to sustain themselves. Most of the public was unaware regarding the difference between the two programs, as they were inclined to believe that they were one and the same thing. The health care services bill was signed by President Johnson on July 30, 1965, despite of the fact that numerous government bureaucrats opposed it (Heirich, 1998, p. 47).

While health care is presently the reason for which numerous individuals have taken legal action against the state, the government, against a particular institution that did not provide the services it was required to provide, or against particular people that have exploited it in spite of the fact that they were not eligible to do so, it was initially less controversial, most probably because the masses still perceived health care as being a public service similar to charity instead of seeing it as it actually was and how it is seen today-"a business requiring a sophisticated legal regime to ensure that it performs responsibly" (Gregg Bloche, 2003, p. 1). The general public thus believed that the subject would never come to generate the tension that it does in the present day.

Health care is essentially a good and in order to benefit from it people have to make use of their finances, similar to how they do in every condition involving their need or a particular good. One of the main reasons for which people fall victim to the belief that health care is a right is the fact that politicians use this theory as a method of manipulating the public in order for it to vote for whoever lobbies the most regarding the implementation of health care as a right. Individuals who believe that health care should be added to the group of basic rights are unaware of the erroneous nature of their thinking.

Supporters of health care as a right fail to observe that a right is fundamentally something that benefits everyone without bringing harm to a particular group or to a certain individual. However, considering that health care is basically provided from government money, it means that this money is produced by somebody in particular. Consequently, one can find themselves asking: who would become responsible for providing money to finance universal health care?

It is virtually absurd just to think that something like health care could be more than a privilege. No one is forced to pay money with the purpose of assisting the elderly or the poor, but they do so and in consequence demonstrate that the people they help are fortunate to be assisted.

To a certain extent (even if this example might be exaggerate), the right to health care can be compared to the right one has to receive an organ from a random donor who is virtually forced to give his organ away, in spite of the fact that he does not want so. In order to understand health care as a privilege, one needs to further analyze the case involving a donor and a receiver, regarding a situation relating to how the donor is willingly donating his or her organ, even though he or she is not required to do so, considering that all that he or she wants is the well-being of the person that they are donating the organ to.

In addition to politicians wanting to increase the number of voters, universal health care is a concept supporting through advertising funded by various individuals who would benefit from this enterprise. Private hospitals would surely have nothing against providing health care to everyone as long as they get paid by the federal government in order to do so. As a result, it is only natural for them to want health care to be made into a universal right. The fact that health care's character as a privilege that is similar to a right is exploited by those who are motivated by their financial interests is particularly worrying. People with critical medical or social conditions are used as a method to influence the government in expanding health care programs to include more and more individuals (Gregg Bloche, 2003, p. 83).

Given that the federal government is practically powerless in comparison with such groups of people makes it even worse, as it has to take legal action against them and it generally has no chance of winning a suit in these circumstances (Gregg Bloche, 2003, p. 83).

Numerous states reported that private insurers included elements in their basic health care packages that did not agree to the actual needs of the persons insured. Private insurers did this as a way to increase their profits, given that most gained a percentage from each insurance agreement they signed. Quite the opposite, a lot of insurers were forced by state authorities "to offer bare-bones insurance to individual and small-group purchasers. This stripped-down insurance has been a failure in the marketplace because, when given a choice of plans, most consumers consider these bare-bone policies as offering too little protection" (Gregg Bloche, 2003, p. 83). This emphasizes the fact that health care can be harmful when it falls in the hands of the wrong persons.

People are typically inclined to agree to how health care would be very effective if it were to be a right, but most are aware that there is no method (or at least one was not found until the present) of making it a basic right. There are numerous individuals who are always willing to agree that a particular privilege should be turned into a right. These people are in most cases disposed to agree that people should have the right to decide whether they live or die. Also, most of these respective individuals will also agree… [END OF PREVIEW]

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