October 23, 2009

Health Care: Right or Privilege?

Hospital room (Denmark, 2005)Image via Wikipedia
At present, health care is a privilege in the U.S. and not a right. Those who believe that health care should be a universal human right have an uphill battle. The number of homeless people throughout our nation suggests that we do not consider basic shelter to be a right either. The fact that some people still do not get enough to eat suggests that food too is often seen as a privilege. It becomes harder to argue that health care is a basic human right, when we do not seem to feel the same way about food or shelter.

Why is it that healthier food tends to be more expensive in our grocery stores? Is good nutrition also a privilege? Why is it still possible to buy new automobile without side-curtain air bags or anti-lock brakes? Is vehicular safety also a privilege?

Health care is part of a system. As long as nutritional food, adequate shelter, automobile safety, and similar benefits are considered to be optional luxuries, we will end up paying the price in the form of increased health care costs.

Increasing access to quality, affordable health care is an important step in the right direction. Still, it is only one step.