Re: Health Care as a Right
Edmund Burke offered a reflection on this question in 1790:
What is the use of discussing a man’s abstract right to food or to medicine? The question is upon the method of procuring and administering them. In that deliberation I shall always advise to call in the aid of the farmer and the physician, rather than the professor of metaphysics.
It seems to me that’s still basically the right response to the question of health care as a right. All sides in the contemporary debate are trying to find a way to provide health insurance to more people more efficiently and cheaply. They are not divided about any fundamental ethical question. People on the left are not saying we should provide unlimited medical care to all without thinking about the cost because health care is a right: They’re arguing their approach would cost less and work better for more people. People on the right are not saying we should forget about the poor because health care is just a privilege: They’re arguing their approach would cost less and work better for more people. Which of them is right is an important question, but it’s not fundamentally an ethical question, and whether health care is a right or not does not seem particularly relevant to finding the answer to that question.