The Corner

Politics & Policy

Is There a Right to Health Care? Does It Matter?

I’ve written a lot about health care over the years, but I can’t recall ever writing before today on the question of whether there is a “right” to it. At Bloomberg View, I finally take up the question, and in a way explain why I haven’t before: I think people vastly overestimate its significance.

Is there a right to health care? Our arguments about health policy frequently highlight the question. The liberals at Slate magazine have answered yes, and the conservatives at the American Spectator have said no. Actress Laura Dern has affirmed such a right, and Republican Representative Raul Labrador denied it. Miss USA has been on both sides of the question. And all of this was just in May.

As much as people argue about it, it’s not a very good question — not, at least, in our society, in which nearly everyone agrees that all people must have access to some basic level of health care. Because of that consensus, conservatives who deny a right to health care don’t really mean it, and liberals who affirm it can’t use it to clinch the case for their favored policies. . . .

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.