Healthcare is not a right.
Admittedly this statement sounds cruel. I think, and hope, that we all agree in wanting everyone to have good health. In other words nobody wants to deny an individual the healthcare that they need. However good laws generally result from the principals outlined in our Constitution and those that are the result of emotions rarely prove effective, fair, and sustainable.
Before we examine why healthcare is not a basic right, lets indulge in a brief refresher on what are our basic rights, originating from the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution/Bill of Rights.
In the Declaration of Independence published in 1776, Thomas Jefferson and our founding fathers put forth that all men are created equal with unalienable rights such as Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Our Constitution has been modified throughout the past 200 years, though perhaps most notable with the Bill of Rights (ratified in 1791) to place limits government authority. The Bill of Rights outlined 10 amendments:
- Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition.
- Right to keep and bear arms in order to maintain a well regulated militia.
- No quartering of soldiers.
- Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.
- Right to due process of law, freedom from self-incrimination, double jeopardy.
- Rights of accused persons, e.g., right to a speedy and public trial.
- Right of trial by jury in civil cases.
- Freedom from excessive bail, cruel and unusual punishments.
- Other rights of the people. (Total Conservative Note: potentially affirming unremunerated rights)
- Powers reserved to the states.
Each of these aforementioned rights is a negative right, which means that they obligate the government to inaction rather than action.1 According to Wikiepedia,
“a negative right entitles a person or group not to be subjected to the action of another person or group.”
Given that the Bill of Rights was written with the intention of limiting government to prevent it from abusing power, that the rights therein are negative is the only reasonable interpretation.
The distinction between negative and positive rights is important because negative rights do not obligate the government to such actions as protecting people from robberies or murders, or to offering welfare. Issues of welfare are positive rights, and they inherently occur at the expense of other people or groups as they require things of those people or groups.
This is where we arrive at the issue of healthcare.
There is no Constitutional right to healthcare. As a United States citizen, there is no obligation of the government to provide your healthcare or any other welfare for that matter. Ben Shapiro, editor at the DailyWire.com and Harvard Law School graduate, framed universal healthcare succinctly and irrefutably in an article he recently penned for the National Review.1
The article was prompted by this pointed Twitter exchange between Shapiro and Bernie Sanders:
People go to the doctor because they’re sick, get a diagnosis from their doctor, but they can’t afford the treatment. How crazy is that!
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) January 7, 2017
I go to a fancy store to check out a piece of furniture, can’t afford it. That’s totally crazy! https://t.co/SEZa4ajDpt
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 8, 2017
“I was pointing out that medical care is a commodity, and that in life, we are often faced with commodities we cannot afford. But this mere observation caused a ruckus on the left.”
This is a valid claim yet many liberals will be quick to demonize this undeniably factual statement. We all recognize that without doctors there is no medical care. Medical care is a service that doctors and medical professionals perform, and on what basis can a person demand this service from a medical professional? The leftist moral justification of healthcare’s necessity making it a right ignores the rights of others. In fact demanding or being entitled to healthcare violates the rights and freedoms of the individuals from whom this service is demanded and must be provided.
On a moral level there is nothing worthy of contention. We would be hard pressed to find someone in favor of taking away another citizen’s good health. Liberals should recognize that their disagreement with conservatives centers around the solution to this problem. They believe the solution is government intervention and that healthcare is somehow a positive right guaranteed through the Declaration of Independence’s “pursuit of happiness.“ For how could one be free to pursue happiness without good health? However countless examples around the globe and here at home evince how governments and the US government have and will continue to fail to solve this problem.
To conclude with finality, I will once again quote Shapiro’s article at the National Review which concisely buries the notion of effective government healthcare. I encourage you all to read the full article here.
To make a commodity cheaper and better, two elements are necessary: profit incentive and freedom of labor. The government destroys both of these elements in the health-care industry. It decides medical reimbursement rates for millions of Americans, particularly poor Americans; this, in turn, creates an incentive for doctors not to take government-sponsored health insurance. It regulates how doctors deal with patients, the sorts of training doctors must undergo, and the sorts of insurance they must maintain; all of this convinces fewer Americans to become doctors. Undersupply of doctors generally and of doctors who will accept insurance specifically, along with overdemand stimulated by government-driven health-insurance coverage, leads to mass shortages. The result is an overreliance on emergency care, costs for which are distributed among government, hospitals, and insurance payers.