Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fundamental Right to Health Care

Do we as citizens of the United States of America have a fundamental right to health care services? That is a large part of the discussion currently at hand. I would hold that we do not. Health care is (as implied) a service which can be purchased, or not. I have a right to purchase as much or as little as I can afford, or choose.

I also have the right to educate myself and to provide health care services to others. For providing these services, I have a right to expect compensation commensurate with my skills and the demand for those skills.

I also have the right to open a business to provide health care insurance. The simple explanation for this is that to my large pool of customers I agree to pay for certain health care services should they be needed. These would normally include needs resulting from accidents or the onset of disease. Out of my pool of customers, some will always be healthy, and never require these insured services and it is from monies paid by them that I will pay the agreed on expenses of my customers who are less fortunate. However, I must be careful not to charge too little for my promise to pay, and not to promise to pay too much in relation to what I charge. If either of these conditions exists, then I will not make a profit and my efforts and capital will be better and more productively spent in some other area of business.

As a consumer I have a right to expect that the health care services that I buy meet certain standards, and the government has licensing boards set up for that very purpose. I also have a right to expect that the companies that I buy my insurance from are treating me fairly, but this is not an industry that needs to be tightly regulated by the government. All the government need do in this case is to insure competition. To insure that I have the option to buy my insurance from whoever will sell me the services I want at the lowest price. That’s all. Competition (market forces) will then depress prices to the fair market value.

I also have the right as a citizen and consumer to expect that the civil justice system will protect me from the malpractice of incompetent healthcare providers. But I also have the right NOT to have my health care and insurance costs increased because of the practice of extremely defensive medicine, frivolous lawsuits and outrageous jury awards for pain and suffering fostered by trial lawyers who have nothing to lose by filing suit, and juries who believe insurance companies are bottomless wells of money. The government can be constructive here by setting reasonable standards for medical tests, limits on compensatory and punitive damages, and some disincentive to discourage the malpractice “lottery” industry.

The United States is a country that was built on self reliance and free market principles. If government run health care were as good as an idea in practice as it is on paper, people would be traveling to Canada, Great Britain and Cuba for services. We are also a nation with great compassion for our fellows and a desire to assist those less fortunate than ourselves. We need to make the relatively small regulatory changes to the health care and insurance systems we have in order to make them more consumer, and market friendly and then provide for the under served with any necessary tax credits and subsidies to make sure that no one goes without.

And that’s what an average guy thinks.

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