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Health Care Is Not a Privilege … Nor Is It a Right

Opinion Editorial
September 8, 2009

By Brian Schwartz

A popular but flawed argument is that “health care is a right, not a privilege.” Health care is neither a right nor a privilege. Rather, we all have the right to seek medical treatment through voluntary trade or charity.

Ironically, those who claim health care is “a right and not a privilege” support policies that make it a privilege. When government enforces an alleged “right” to health care, the political class decides what health care is and when it’s appropriate for people to get it. That is, health care becomes a privilege granted by those in charge.

For example, Canadian authorities deemed Bill Murray of Alberta “too old” for a hip procedure — and prohibited him from paying for it himself.

Health care is not a right. Rights are freedoms of action, not entitlements to what others produce. A “right” to health care violates the rights of those who produce it.

“Health care” consists of diagnoses and treatments by highly-trained medical professionals. It involves sophisticated products, instruments, and tests designed and developed at great investment, effort, and cost by scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. That is, people produce health care.

Nor is medical care a privilege. A privilege is something authority figures permit us to do at their discretion. No one considers auto repair to be a right, but it’s absurd to consider it “a privilege.”

To read the rest, go here.

This originally appeared on Pajamas Media, September 8th, 2009.