Flyover: Is health care a right or a privilege?

Every American needs it. Every American uses it. And yet we remain undecided on whether health care and the insurance that covers it is a right or a privilege. That's the essence of what Congress was arguing about in this most recent round of arguments over the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.Are we hard workers who earn, through the money we make, the privilege of health care security? Or are we a community that supports others through tough times and pools our vast wealth to ensure security for all? Both narratives are at play in other social programs. So which will win out for health care coverage?

  • Health care is a right. I am a special education teacher and I see families struggle to get health care for their students. When a student struggles to read, gets headaches when they try to do their work- parents don’t have the health insurance to get their student a comprehensive eye exam. So the student continues to do poorly in school. Oftentimes- the student’s off-task behaviors get in the way of other students’ learning. Poor health care affects everyone.
  • I was born with a congenital heart defect while my father was between jobs. I needed life-saving surgery, but his new employer wouldn't put me on his insurance plan because I had a pre-existing condition. My doctor signed me up for Medicaid, which Pres. Johnson had just signed into law. Not sure what my family would have done if it weren't for Medicaid. Not sure if I'd be here.
  • If health care is not a right, then we should have no problem simply denying medical treatment to anyone who does not have the necessary insurance. If we are unwilling to do that, then it is something more than a privilege reserved for some people.
  • #flyoverradio Unlike the US, in Canada, people do not have to stay in an unhealthy job to keep their coverage. Everyone has access. My blood boils at the criticism of Cda's system: care in the US is unfairly distributed, lines the pockets of insurance companies, and leaves people with high deductibles which discourage preventive care.
  • In this great country of entrepreneurs, people are tied to jobs because of health care. Totally insane.
  • If people didn’t have to worry about health coverage through their employer, how many more potential entrepreneurs would leave their jobs at the big company and pursue their ideas. In this freedom loving country, does what if the current system is creating less freedom because people are tied to a job. If you have people depending on you and your coverage, you’re most likely sticking with the safe choice.
  • Good point about promoting illness rather than health. Minnesota used to have a helmet law for motorcycles. Now, I rarely see them, and always think about the financial ramifications of someone choosing to forego the protection of a helmet: an accident without death, but with a head injury, may require a lifetime of medical care. That "freedom" costs the whole health system. This is a no-brainer in countries such as Canada, but not discussed here. This is one example of prevention.
  • Vivian Ho,
    So you're telling me that because rich people like you may have to wait a couple weeks to access NON ESSENTIAL healthcare, you would deny healthcare to people in poverty? A little empathy would be nice.

    (and by the way , universal care would give you access to whatever doc you may want)
  • Re why employed people more likely
    have health care, you should know things didn't get this way out of a judgement about who works hard. During WWII in order to avoid price inflation, the federal government told employers not to raise wages. Instead employers were allowed to offer health insurance--a brand new benefit--- in lieu of wage increases. This federal policy directive is what started employer paid health insurance, so please don't suggest that it started as a judgement for certain people and against others.
  • Right or Privilege is the wrong question. Health care is one of the injunctions the U.S. ascribes to its citizens. But given stagnant wages, an expanding divide between the top middle and bottom of the income demographic as well as expanding panoply of medical interventions the injunction is beyond the capacity to fulfill. The average wage is approximately $54,000, the average premium is between $8,000 and $12,000 or 15% to 20% of their gross average wage.

    We join together as citizens to pay for national defense, roads and bridges, environmental disasters, etc. The underlying systems which provide these protections and utilities are assumed the right of us all even though we don’t all agree on the national choices for war or live in areas plagued with hurricanes, floods or fires. Nor do all of us travel. Still, these common endeavors are there, supported for when the need arises. As the wage gap widens and medical cost increase we either do this as a common endeavor or we will eventually erode the medical system we have developed.
  • My husband and I pay $13,000 per year with AFTER TAX DOLLARs for coverage for us and our college-age daughter. Why are we penalized based on where we work?
  • It seems that a lot of Americans think that internet access is a "right," especially in rural areas, but don't feel the same way about health care. I disagree. Strongly.
  • The proper question is whether health care is a privilege or an entitlement. It's not a "right" because no one give rights; they come with being an American in this country. As one guest pointed out, rights are listed in the Constitution; they are no conferred by it.

    The waiting problem is supply and demand, nothing more. Nothing is ANY proposal does anything to make more doctors and other providers. When you have more people needing any service from the same number of providers, longer waits are inescapable - and completely unrelated to how the services will be paid for.
  • In addition, politics here interfere with the care medical professionals recommend: unconscionable. #flyoverradio
  • Neither my husband nor I get insurance through an employer. He manages a small manufacturing company that we own. The company cannot afford to provide insurance to its employees. I work for a non-profit agency that does not provide health insurance. We pay $13,000/year with after tax dollars to insure us and our college-age daughter. Why should we have to pay this much money simply because we work for the wrong employers?
  • No body comes into this world without needing healthcare. Most everyone is born in a hospital. That by itself should end this argument about whether or not it is a privilege. One point not brought up by the discussion is why a Medicare Choice for those on the ACA is not being offered. Right now 47.5% of people get their insurance from their employer, 38% from Medicare, Medicare and the VA, 10% purchase it from private insurance, 3.6% get it from the ACA and 8% are still uninsured. It seems logical that a Medicare Choice be provided for the 11.6% (ACA folks + those still uninsured ). This would not break the bank since most people are already getting insurance. That would be the easiest and most logical solution.
  • I consider healthcare a government "responsibility" for the common good more than an individual "privilege" and not a "right" in the constitutional sense. It should be tightly regulated like a utility whether privatized or nationalized.
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