Here's Something: Health care is not a right

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In 2003, I was viciously ill for three weeks. I remember it painfully well.

I was living in a moldy little cottage beside Sebago Lake, and for three weeks my body fought against what I later learned was a severe dust allergy. I was just plain miserable. Every sickness I’ve had since is measured against that awful experience.

Now I’m waging another epic battle against micro organisms, and I’m losing badly. So badly, I’m raising the white flag and actually going to the doctor. I made a deal with myself that if I didn’t feel better within a week, I’d get myself checked out. I’m very cheap, so you better believe I’m sick if I’m going to shell out for a doctor’s visit and the possible medication I’ll have to buy as a result.

My recent misery, however, isn’t for naught. It has made me realize a few things about health and the whole debate over health insurance.

I keep seeing people on the news carrying protest signs indicating that health care is a right. It is not a right. That might be the biggest lie the left has in its arsenal.

Right now, we receive health care from willing doctors and nurses. We receive life-saving medicine from people who voluntarily work to develop these medications. None of them are forced to provide us health care. They do it because they want to and because they get paid. It’s a pretty good system for both patient and provider, based on free-market capitalism.

When people thoughtlessly say health care is a right, they are taking for granted the fact there are plenty of willing and knowledgeable doctors, nurses and allied health professionals able to help those who get sick.

Imagine a world where no one wants to make their living in health care. Or imagine a world where no one is smart enough to become a health provider. There are no life-saving drugs because, well, people are too stupid to come up with them. As a result, we would still get sick, but there’d be nobody and no drugs to take care of us.

Health care is provided by people. Willing people. You can’t force someone to provide health care. The system relies on people who are motivated by internal forces, rather than external forces.

I get worried when I hear liberals talk about health care being a right because they are forgetting half the equation. Health care requires a provider, and you can’t force someone to provide your right. Hence, it’s not a right. It’s more like a happy occurrence that someone is able to restore your health.

Actually, to take it a step further, we know some diseases can’t be fixed. In those cases that end in failure, has the doctor violated a person’s right to proper health care? Of course not.

Protesters who say health care is a right are actually just a hop, skip and a jump from advocating for authoritarianism, where the government can force people to work. Let’s hope we never live in a country where government ever has that kind of power.

Second, while I’m thankful our health-care system is excellent and is filled with capable professionals, I’m not all that thrilled with the state of health insurance. I’m old enough to remember when people had insurance with low deductibles and low premiums. Families now pay $15,000-$20,000 a year in coverage, and that’s just to cover a premium.

Personally, I’ve always opted for a catastrophic health plan because it was affordable. Such a plan will provide coverage should I get cancer or some other major problem, but is absolutely no help in the run-of-the-mill stuff like my current illness. My deductible is so high that I have to spend $5,000 of my own money annually before my insurance kicks in. I’m sure many readers are in the same boat.

And that’s in addition to the biweekly premium that comes out of our paychecks. The high costs, incurred before we even visit a doctor, leaves me feeling like I really don’t have health insurance, since I have to pay so much up front. And it means I avoid going to the doctor, except in dire emergencies.

This kind of situation demands a solution. I’m eagerly anticipating the Republicans’ plan to replace Obamacare. Just as I don’t have the knowledge needed to become a nurse or doctor, I certainly don’t have a prescription for fixing the insurance system. But I’m hoping there are those who do, and will wait to hear their diagnosis.

As long as this illness doesn’t kill me first.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.

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  • David Craig

    By your reasoning, education is not a right either, as we can’t force people to work as teachers. Hey, guess what? By your reasoning, a functional criminal justice system isn’t a right either, as we can’t force people to work as police officers, lawyers, judges, correctional officers, etc. Get well soon. Your illness seems to have affected your reasoning capabilities.

    • Jane Gildart

      David, in our system, we delegate to our government the power to secure our rights to liberty and property. That is the purpose of our legal system. We have a “right” to an attorney when we face prosecution, and the loss of our liberty or property, because it is not “right” for the state to deprive us of same unless the law is followed scrupulously.
      Education and health care are goods and services. Very valuable goods and services, but goods and services nonetheless. Under freedom, we each have the right to enter the metaphorical marketplace to obtain those services from willing providers, through voluntary exchange. In political philosophy, the term “rights” pertains not to being entitled to stuff, but to the freedom of action, which should not be abridged by the state or by our neighbors’ use of force against us.
      From this contextual base, reasonable people can then try to make the case that education or health care is a service that ought to be provided to every individual, in spite of our rights to liberty and property, not because of our rights.
      IMO, government policy that reinforces the status of health “insurance” as the primary means of paying for medical care is hurting our ability to innovate new solutions to the eternal problem of how to care for the sick.

      • David Craig

        Your comment is far more well reasoned than Balentine’s piece, which asserted “Protesters who say health care is a right are actually just a hop, skip and a jump from advocating for authoritarianism”. We’re facing a credible authoritarian threat in the White House, but Balentine is trying to distract and deflect by blaming health care rights advocates. Fake News. Sloppy. Sad.

        • Lucy Ball

          “Fake News” or an opinion piece? Learn the difference.

          • David Craig

            I was just riffing on Trump with “Fake News. Sloppy. Sad.”

          • Seventh Angel

            Sure you were. LOL. But you still don’t know the difference between hard news and an opinion piece.

          • David Craig

            Wonderful. A new anonymous troll in our midst to educate us.

          • Seventh Angel

            Name calling? You lose. Thanks! 🙂

      • matt carter

        Please take a look at the ninth amendment to the bill of rights. It asserts that not all rights are enumerated in the bill of rights. I’m pretty sure that if you look hard enough, you will see exhaustive legal language written into law that says children are afforded the right to a basic education.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Right_to_education

        • Seventh Angel

          K-12 is entitled to basic education. Not college students. They need to pay for their own education. Unless you believe the scam that it should be “free” – which according to Bernie Sanders is not free and will raise all of our taxes by 15-20% (New York Daily News, Oct. 2016).

          Good luck making a living on a 20% pay cut. Even as students now spend 6 or more years in college for a simple 4-year degree and come out with nothing but useless liberal arts degrees.

          The days of liberal narcissistic entitlement are over. Pay your own way and study something useful instead of “Women’s Studies” which leads to no job or career.

    • Seventh Angel

      Sorry but education and healthcare will never be “free” no matter what the Democrat snake oil salesmen tell you. Somebody has to pay for the teachers/doctors salaries, their equipment, supplies, etc.

      You only want “free” education because you’re too lazy to pay off your own student loans. Or your too lazy to eat healthy and want others (taxpayers) to pay for your poor health.

      Either way this article addresses a simple concept which you seem to not understand.

      Pay for my student loans and THEN we can discuss raising our taxes so I can help pay for yours. Deal?

      Idiot liberals. You all think with feelings and no logic.

      • David Craig

        None of the comments (prior to yours) suggested free education or healthcare. The rest of your rant, baseless accusations, and name calling are typical of anonymous angry internet trolls.

        • Seventh Angel

          David I don’t want you around any children. You can’t be trusted. Your profile activity clearly shows who you really are.

  • Just Sayin’

    Perhaps it’s not a right as you define it here, but any country that doesn’t prioritize the well being of its citizenry has shown its true colors, and they aren’t pretty. You can’t have a country be “Of the people, by the people, and for the people” if those who run it are willing to let those people sicken, suffer, and die in favor of economics.

  • Queenie42

    Eliminate the middleman. Go to Medicare for all. Simple. No insurance clerk should have the right to deny healthcare to anyone. Get insurance out of the healthcare business and save at least 35% off the top of costs. Billions of dollars saved, no premiums to pay. You would be surprised how much less each of us would pay even if there were a tax it would be far less than the annual premiums insurance companies demand and going up each year.
    Even Ayn Rand, who hated anything like this ended up on Medicare at the end of her days.
    Either we are in this thing called life together or we aren’t. And if we are not in it together we fail as a nation.

  • EdBeem

    I believe health care is a human right. Obviously you do not. You need to make a distinction between a difference of opinion and a lie. As to being a hop skip and jump from authoritarianism, the GOP is already there. When you refuse to compromise, you usher in authoritarianism.

    • Jimmy_John67

      Wow pretty aggressive comment from Ed to his co-worker. Apparently Ed compromised on his choice between a glass of Jack Daniels or Jim Beam with lunch by deciding to have both.

      • EdBeem

        On the contrary, glad to have John aboard. I value a variety of opinions and was merely pointing out that just because people hold different opinions does not mean anyone is lying.

        • Jimmy_John67

          What a lame attempt at damage control. You made an aggressive, rude statement towards a coworker and instead of apologizing you are attempting to spin it and claim your intentions were positive. That is a play right out of the Trump/LePage playbook. It is well documented that the only opinion you value is your own and anyone who disagrees with you is either a liar or promoting “fake news” (hey another way you emulate Trump and LePage). Perhaps you should abstain from commenting on your coworkers opinion pieces altogether (and probably your own as well). Unfortunately we both know that won’t happen since you can’t resist the sound of your own voice and have a deep seeded need to be “right” no matter how inane your position. Yet another quality you share with Trump.

          • Queenie42

            Project much?

          • EdBeem

            Odd to me how some people don’t seem to understand that disputing someone’s opinion and asserting your own does not mean you don’t value the other person’s ideas or are seeking to suppress them, which is pretty much the point I was trying to make with my comment. That said, J-J is probably correct that I shouldn’t comment publically on others’ columns. Usually, I email the other columnists privately if I have something to say.

          • Jimmy_John67

            Unfortunately your actions don’t match your words. The examples are endless but let’s just look at your original comment. You accused Mr. Ballentine and millions of Americans who are registered Republicans of supporting and engaging in authoritarianism just because they don’t agree with your opinions. If you are looking to have a meaningful debate and truly value someone else’s opinion you don’t lead by basically calling someone a facist. Odd to me that some people don’t seem to understand that.

          • EdBeem

            Not because they do not agree with me. I said that when you decide that you will not compromise, as the GOP did during Obama’s administration, you are insisting your way is the only way. That is authoritarianism. And the reason that subject came up is that Balentine raised the specter of authoritarianism with regard to health care. And the fact is that people who support Trump long for the authoritarian government he is trying unsuccessful to run. Conservatives in general lean toward authoritarian tough love. As always, it is a mistake to engage with you both because you do not read what is written and because, as Queenie correctly points out, you are forever doing exactly what you criticize me for doing.

          • Jimmy_John67

            Looks like my reply from 2 days ago got caught up in the filters. Not sure why but lets try again.

            As usual you did not read what was written and continue to do exactly what you criticize anyone and everyone who does not share your specific opinions for doing. Once again you label all Trump supporters basically as fascists. You sound just like the numb nuts in 2008 calling Obama supporters communists and socialists! It simply promotes hate and contempt and you can’t expect compromise from a position of hate. Unfortunately your idea of compromise is “I’m right and you’re wrong therefore you need to compromise your views to align with mine” which is why engaging with you is always a mistake. I purposely structure my comments as statements not questions so you won’t respond but just like Trump it is evident that your fragile ego and thin skin doesn’t allow you to resist. So I ask yet again, please do not respond to my comments as I prefer to add my color commentary in peace to illustrate that you are a nothing but a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

          • Jimmy_John67

            Coming from the person who pulls out such reasonable nuggets of wisdom as “following Hitler’s playbook” I don’t put much weight into your evaluation of my character.

          • Queenie42

            This is really your life, isn’t it. You sit there and take notes? Wow. You need to go off and take out your frustration on the nearest sheep.

          • Jimmy_John67

            Wow! Sounds like you are very well versed in sheep/human relations. I’m more of a go for a run when I’m frustrated type of guy but if you like getting acquainted with fuzzy four legged mammals to help you relax then I won’t judge.

    • yathink2011

      He obviously didn’t read the column. It’s just a Right because I say it is.

    • Seventh Angel

      So you want to raise your own taxes to pay for my poor health decisions? You know, we’re one of the least healthy countries in the world. Most Americans are obese now. Yet you want to raise your own taxes by 35% to care for these people? That’s what you’ll get with “free” universal healthcare.

      Why do you dislike personal responsibility so much? You think you’re morally superior by pretending to care about sick people? You’re just encouraging bad behavior and taking money from good people who actually care about their health.

      Just because you lack conviction and self-control doesn’t mean others should pay for it. Grow up liberal. You’re not helping anyone. You just lack critical thinking skills and hide behind false virtue signaling.

      I’m betting you’re a liberal arts professor sitting up in an ivory tower too. Work for free if you want “free” education. Don’t try to raise our taxes.

  • matt carter

    If the litmus test for what is and isn’t a right is dictated by whether or not someone needs to be paid for providing the structure for delivering those rights, then we’d need to closely examine the criminal justice system. Unless you can point to a system where judges volunteer their time to hear cases brought by an all volunteer police force, your argument here is moot. Rights are not automatically bestowed on human beings. We as a society decide what our rights are, as the Bill of rights, and particularly the ninth amendment, points out. Our society decided long ago that it’s citizens should have the protection of an impartial police and judicial system, and so that has been implemented. If our society should overwhelmingly decide that health care is a right, then it will be so.

  • llskinner

    The US is the only developed country that doesn’t consider human health a right.

  • furrious1

    The crux of your confusing argument is based on the misleading idea that health can be treated as if it were a commodity. Unlike oil or cocoa futures, health is NOT a commodity but an attribute which an individual enjoys or, unhappily, to an extent, lacks.
    Health care has every characteristic of something that a thoughtful and reasonable democracy WOULD include as a right , but I agree that it is not a right unless it is written into law as such.
    The second confusion that makes reading your view difficult is that you think that caring for others is something normal people would do ONLY if they are paid to do so. Happily that is not at all the case. Of course high tech medicines and diagnostic machines are reliant upon funding. That funding will be provided if and only if we decide that it is fundamentally important to have. But there is no doubt that a society in which caring for others is considered naturally virtuous, will provide such funding either through taxation of private funding, even for profit funding.
    I suspect you would call yourself a Libertarian. My take on that philosophy is that it is so swept up in fiscal matters and “the free market” that the folk who admire it forget that Capitalism is dependent upon the people-not the people are dependent on Capitalism

    • pjkslk

      Great point about “free markets.” The best ones only exist within the framework of robust laws and regulations and a society with the disposable income to support them.

  • Seventh Angel

    David Craig isn’t allowed to live withing 500 yards of a school. But let’s hear what he thinks about politics. His opinion really matters. He has no facts, no critical thinking skills. He just insults. So I just make fun of child molesters. I win! 🙂