Is Health Care a Right?

A recent facebook poll asked an interesting philosophical question which I'd like to share with my readers in hopes of getting them thinking a bit.  The question asked was "Should health care be considered a basic human right?"  At the time of my writing this the results are 72% yes and 28% no.

My first thought in reading this is what is the question's authors definition of "health care".  Caring for yourself is "health care".  Working out, eating healthy, even brushing your teeth is a form of health care.  If health care is a basic right, then should the utilities needed to provide good health care also be considered a right? 

If I don't have a tooth brush then I can't brush my teeth and therefore my dental health would suffer.  So is a toothbrush a basic human right?

I can walk into a local drug store and find 10 different companies at the very least selling their own versions of tooth brushes.  If instead of a being a market driven product it was instead looked at as a basic right then there would be no need for various companies to each promote their own innovative style brushes.

Other's understanding or lack there of of the poll raised additional questions about the definition. 

Valentine Ramirez wrote:

i think people have health care confused with medical care

Joseph Rodarte write:

We have to discuss what a ‘right’ is first.

Chelse Kessler brings up an interesting point in that health care is a choice.  She's 100% correct.  I can choose to be healthy, eat healthy foods, work out regularly and take care of my body.  Or I can choose to sit on my couch eating Twinkiees and not caring for myself.  The results of the later choices lead to more health problems and thus higher costs.

Now if we fall back to the liberal argument for seat belts, they argue that they are justified in forcing me to wear my seatbelt because if I were to get into an accident their insurance costs would go up due to higher accident rates.  Using this same logic, if I'm expected to pay for your health care costs then I'm 100% justified in forcing you to get off that couch and start working out and forcing you to give up the Twinkiees and only eat health approved foods.  Now you're stripping people of freedom of choice over what they do and what they put into their own bodies and I would hope none of us would want that.

What should happen is that if you choose not to wear a seatbelt, you pay higher insurance rates then those of us who buckle up.  And if you choose to sit around all day eating Twinkiees and watching TV then you pay more in medical costs then those of us who stay healthy.

What people actually think of when they see Health Care is actually medial treatment.  Medical treatment is the visit to the doctor see if anything can be done for you when you have a cold.  Medial treatment is caring for someone who is found to have cancer or some other illness.

Medical treatment also reflects back on how much you care for your own health.  Someone with poor personal health care would have high medical treatment costs where someone with good personal health care would have lower costs.

Hope Rommel writes about health care but his post is actually talking about medical treatment and I think sums it up perfectly:

Health care [Read as medical treatment] is a highly skilled service provided by a person that chose to take on the task and expense of learning how to do it. The end result of their education and training is their ownership of that intellectual property and the ability to obtain a license to practice medicine. I think it goes against the Rights of the provider to say that everyone has a Right to that intellectual property. A Right which if violated, would make the doctor a criminal. I think that reforming our system to better serve the people of our nation is obviously an idea whose time has come and I expect that changes will occur, but I don't believe that to call health care a RIGHT is appropriate. Additionally, I have never been in a situation where someone said "Is there a doctor!" and a doctor or nurse did not step up and offer assistance. I understand that this discussion is more about current health reform, but don't seek to "enslave" the dr.s because of insurance companies grievances.

A doctor, nurse or other medical profession is someone who went to school to learn that field as their trade.  Are we entitled to their service any more so then we are entitled to a computer programmer to develop a web page for us?  Are we entitled to their service any more then the service of a band at our wedding?

And before you jump up and down screaming fire men and police, there is a difference.  A police officer is there to protect me from you and to assure you do not violate my rights.  If you get sick from eating high fat foods and have a stroke and die it does no harm to me.  If you start a fire that gets out of control and burns down my house, that does me harm.  If you break into my house and steal my things, that does me harm.  That's the key difference.

So getting back to the main question, is it right to expect society to pay for your medical treatment costs if you make bad personal health choices for yourself?  Or is it right for society to force you to eat and stay healthy if they are covering your medical treatment costs?  Last question to consider, if we are entitled to a service someone provides then can we set the price of what we feel that service is worth?