Is Health Care a Right or a Privilege? (part 1)

Today, President Obama called for an up or down vote on health care legislation. For the past year, there has been a lot of talk (and yelling) about whether or not to overhaul the U.S. health care system. Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it much until it came into national focus and dominated so much of the news. I just paid my premiums. Now that I’m a small business owner and I have to find it and deal with it on my own; I need to understand it more for myself and my employees. I listen to the experts and pundits on television and I try to engage people about it, but politics can be very polarizing. Recently I ran into a friend of mine whom I hadn’t seen in a while and who works in the health care system in a large metropolitan area. I have permission to reprint the reply here. I will post it in three separate installments as it is fairly lengthy and I am withholding the name—just cuz. I would welcome your thoughts and input on this first hand account on health care by someone who serves in it.

Reprinted by permission from D.R. (Thanks a lot for the food for thought)

This is a very difficult situation and a very complex argument. It’s difficult to converse about this because most people are very passionate about their position. Their emotions cloud things and a sensible and fruitful discussion often becomes a fight.

The question to be answered, “Is health care a privilege or is it a right?” is very important to answer. It is the foundation to the argument.

I think most people argue my side the wrong way. They don’t know why they believe what they believe, honestly. They believe only what they have been told. Most people counter my position by saying: “do you really believe people should suffer in bad health?” No, I do not. But it will take me a minute to elaborate on why I believe denying people nationalized health care is BETTER for their health.

Health care is provided as a service by trained professionals who work very hard and sacrifice a lot to be called “Doctor.” They must pay at least 7-10 K per year for four years just for medical school; add four years of undergrad on top of that. They go to school for eight years just to be called doctor. Then, they sacrifice another 3-5 years in a residency working 80 hours/week with few weekends off and numerous “all nighters.” To perform open-heart surgery or other specialized services that we enjoy, they must entertain another 2 years in a “felllowship.” It may take the doctor 15 years before beginning to practice on his/her own. MOST people do not have the endurance to sustain that much of an investment. After all of this, doctors face an ever growing litigious atmosphere in which their split-second decisions are second-guessed in hindsight and subjected to multi-million dollar lawsuits which are usually decided upon by a
group of peers whom are 15 years behind (ignorant) in their understanding of the decision made. And often, a “sympathy” reward is given to the individual whom suffered harm even when the doctor made a decision between two evils. This is not always the case, and doctors do make mistakes with many implications due to their own fault…but I am arguing the point that they suffer huge scrutiny and are expected to achieve 100% success. They ought to be awarded a larger salary than the burger flipper simply because they have invested so much. This is the same for the engineer, the CEO, or even the office of the presidency- they have earned it!

So, the first argument usually presented for controlling cost is that doctors earn too much. And in certain cases, they probably do. But the most of them do not, I believe.

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