Health care is not a human right.
Nope. Not even close.
Freedoms enumerated and enshrined in the Constitution? Human rights. The right to free speech, the right to worship as you please, the right to bear arms in defense of yourself, your family, and the nation, the right to be free of the government quartering its soldiers in your home, yeah, all those things are human rights, built into the bedrock of human experience. That they have been violated more often than upheld is part of what makes them so precious, and worthy of defending. But these freedoms and rights require nothing more than our eternal vigilance to maintain. (Which is cheap at twice the price, considering the totality of human history.)
Health care is not a human right because it depends on so many other people doing things for your benefit. If I were a doctor, I would not agree that you had a human right to demand my services for less than I believe they are worth. (And if I priced my services too high, I’d probably go hungry a lot while my competitors lived off the fat of the land. But that’s my right and privilege to determine for myself.) If I were a nurse, I would not agree that just because your tummy hurts, you have a human right to force me to turn away from the cardiac patient who is coding in the next room and give you an antacid. If I were a dentist, I would not say that you had a human right to barge into my office and demand that I immediately pull the tooth that’s been bothering you because you don’t have enough sense to take care of your own teeth, when I already have a waiting room full of patients who made appointments and also have dental issues.
And so forth.
What I’m really getting at is that the labor of another human being (either singularly or plurally) is not yours to demand as a human right, simply because you didn’t have the sense to buy insurance before you started having major health issues. And that’s what you’re doing when you insist that health care is a human right. You’re also demanding that my labor is yours to demand by proxy, since my tax money and my insurance premiums go to fund the abortion known as Obamacare.
We do not fight wars to restore human rights to people in other parts of the world in order that they can demand that we continue to prop them up after we’ve thrown the dictatorial and oppressive bastards out (which was the mistake we made in both Iraq and Afghanistan). Human rights and the exercise of them are what lay down the base of a free and civilized society. They do not provide services nor do they demand revenue. They simply “are”.
When I write posts on this blog, they are my freely-expressed opinions. I do not demand that someone else pay for my web hosting or domain registration, or my time and effort keeping the blogging software and the rest of the site up to date. I don’t even ask for donations, because I don’t think my writing is worth your money 🙂 But to take the “health care is a human right” to another level, what if I and other bloggers started to take the attitude that the provision of the soapbox upon which we exercise our right to free speech should also be a human right, that all of you taxpayers out there should be forced to subsidize?
That’s a horse of a different color, isn’t it?
The argument that insurance should cover pre-existing conditions completely ignores the point of insurance. Insurance is a gamble between you and the house (the insurance company) that you either will (your bet) or won’t (their bet) become gravely ill at some point. Insurance generally pays for health maintenance like doctor visits and immunizations and colonoscopies and mammograms because those things are inexpensive (by comparison) hedges on their bet. In other words, they pick up the tab because it’s like putting their thumb on the roulette wheel or using a marked deck — you’re more likely to stay healthy if you have those things, and not cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars over your lifetime for major medical expenses.
By definition, if you do not have insurance and you get some dread disease like cancer or lupus or rheumatoid arthritis, and then you demand that you should have insurance coverage to pay for it, you are holding up the house and trying to make off with something you did not pay for. And that ends up making my annual bets on my own health cost more.
The running gag about the lottery is that you can’t win if you don’t play. (In actuality, you can’t win no matter what you do; winning is a fluke, the rules and the odds are stacked against you.) Translated to the casino metaphor I’ve used above, you can’t win if you don’t lay down a bet. The casinos take a very dim view of that. I would imagine sitting down at the table and placing a bet on 13 red without actually laying down a chip would get you hustled right back out to the street.
The uninsured do not have a human right to barge into my insurance company and demand that it pay for their dread disease. Period. I don’t care what Congress says and I don’t care what the Supreme Court or the President say, either. Insurance is a pay-for-play deal.
Closer to home, the uninsured also do not have a human right to demand that the federal or state government care for them and levy the cost of that care onto the taxpayers. While I would feel responsible for the health care of my own immediate family (as any civilized man or woman should), I frankly don’t have the money to waste on yours. And it is a waste — it is money I will never see again (and never saw to begin with, because the government hoovers it out of my paycheck before I ever see it, to the tune of about two grand a month once everyone gets their cut). That is money that I, as a responsible ant, should be putting away for my retirement and other future costs, not handing out to grasshoppers who can’t think past their young and healthy years and don’t even consider buying insurance until it’s too late — or just live on hope, that is, “I sure hope I don’t get sick or hit by a car or a falling meteor.”*
That said, I have at least one very close friend who has been buying his own health insurance for years and has had massive hospital and health care bills over the last six years. Of course his premiums under Obamacare have skyrocketed. And of course he’s not employed with what most of us would consider a regular job — he’s a writer and speaker. And you cheap grasshoppers out there are part of why he’s hemorrhaging cash.
Despite my arguments above, I do not maintain that there should be absolutely no consideration for the uninsured with pre-existing conditions, but only that such consideration should be voluntary on the part of the public who will be paying for it, and not forced upon the public as a human right equivalent to the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Some sort of fund to cover such people’s short-term medical expenses with the caveat that they MUST purchase an insurance policy and show proof that they have maintained it through the “pre-existing condition” period (which used to be a year for most things) is acceptable to me. But the rules have to be clear, fair, and tough. One year only, and only once in your life.
But again, the public ants shouldn’t be forced to pay for all those grasshoppers in the long term, and it ought to be hard to get them to pay in the short term. Let’s face it: Eating, for instance, is not a human right. Work or starve has been the rule throughout history, at least until modern times when the original meaning of the Constitution has been twisted to support federal welfare programs and more wallet-hoovering by the federal government. Even the freed slaves after our Civil War were essentially told that freedom was defined as the choice between working and starving.
Housing isn’t a human right, either. Housing generally requires other people’s labor, for which they expect to be paid. Or it uses other people’s property, again, for which they expect to be paid.
Clothing? Not a human right. Lots of people in the world wear anywhere from nothing to locally-produced homespun to the cast-offs our thrift stores send to them.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights were written by hard-headed but fair-minded men who understood that a government could not force its citizens to be altruists. When they wrote about promoting the general welfare, they did not mean handing out money to the indigent so they could eat, house, and clothe themselves. They meant something more lofty than that — the general welfare of the country as a whole, which, if properly promoted, would mean that few if any people would go hungry, naked, or unroofed. But not because such was a human right — because “a rising tide [should] float all boats”, as Ronald Reagan was fond of saying.
To claim that the Framers could not know that we would have the level of medical science that we have today and that they really meant to include universal healthcare as a basic right is to ignore the fact that the Framers were smarter than that. Two hundred and thirty years later, there are only 27 amendments to the original plan, ten of which were ratified immediately as the Bill of Rights, one of which (smart) repealed another (stupid), and two of which (the 16th and 17th) were progressive, radical departures from the Framers’ ideal, and which have come around to bite us in the ass a hundred years later.
Bottom line: Health care and the fulfillment of other basic human needs aren’t human rights, or the Framers would have included them from the start.
* Dudes, I’ve had major medical insurance, either paid for myself or by my employer, from the time I was 24. And life insurance, too.