Human rights as defined by the United Nations and the Encyclopedia Britannica, are commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being, and which are inherent in all human beings regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status.
Positive vs. Negative RightsWe also need to explore the concept of positive and negative rights. A negative right is a right not to be subjected to an action of another person or group, whereas a positive right is a right to be subjected to an action of another person or group.
Rights considered negative rights, may include civil and political rights such as freedom of speech, life, private property, freedom from violent crime, freedom of religion, habeas corpus, a fair trial, and freedom from slavery.
Rights considered positive rights, may include other civil and political rights such as police protection of person and property and the right to counsel, as well as economic, social and cultural rights such as food, housing, public education, employment, national security, military, health care, social security, internet access, and a minimum standard of living.
I would argue that only negative rights should be considered human rights since they exist without oppressing others’ rights. On the other hand, positive rights are privileges, and if not given freely, they can only exist by violating others’ negative rights, and therefore should not be seen as valid human rights.
I think we can all agree that someone has a human right to liberty. Liberty is a negative right, as it does not require anyone to validate it, and can only be undone by someone else’s actions that directly oppose it. Alternatively, we should all agree that someone does not have a right to walk up to a doctor with a gun and demand free healthcare because it would be obtained by forcing actions upon someone else and violating their negative rights of liberty and freedom.
Just recently, Rand Paul illustrated this exact point in Congress. Paul responded to Bernie Sanders’ socialist ravings by stating that Sanders in effect, supports slavery by demanding the very best healthcare that the system can offer to every single person in the U.S. despite the resources to pay for it. Paul stated that as a physician, that kind of delusional thinking would allow someone to break down his door and force him to take care of them.
An Alternate ArgumentIf you’re still not convinced yet, let's attempt an alternate argument. True human rights should have existed since the dawn of human beings. Concepts such as free speech and thought can withstand the test of time, whereas privileges cannot.
Government healthcare did not exist a hundred years ago. The MRI machine didn’t exist until the 1970s, so, therefore, every human who died before its invention had lacked the “right” to healthcare including an MRI. Can it truly be considered a human right if it didn’t exist for all humans?
Let’s say that someone is about to have a medical breakthrough tomorrow, and develop a cure for cancer. As of right now, this cure isn’t real, so I cannot possibly have a right to the cure for cancer since it doesn’t exist yet. How can I not have a human right one day, but have it the next?
An Economic Approach Based on AffordabilitySince I do not believe that healthcare is a human right, I do not believe that we have the obligation to provide “free” healthcare to everyone in this country. I do, however, believe that healthcare is a privilege and that if an individual can afford it, then that individual is entitled to the best healthcare that they can afford. This is the way it’s always been, and I don’t see the necessity to change it.
This is a similar approach how I view other facets of life. If I do not have the money to afford a mansion or a Bugatti, then I don’t get the privilege of living in a mansion or driving a Bugatti… this is simple economics.
Those who oppose this view are probably thinking, “So if we aren’t going to say that healthcare is a human right and guarantee its availability to all humans, then what are we going to do? Just let people die in the streets when they can’t afford it?”
The hard truth is that the idea of forcibly mandating everyone in the country to contribute to a government-run charity is simply not fair. Call me cruel, but it directly opposes the human rights of liberty and freedom to do as one pleases, so long as one does not oppress the rights of others.
I would much rather prefer a system of optional charity to causes that I deem most important. And with less money taken from me through taxes, I would have a lot more money to contribute. Some may argue that the government knows best and should maintain control over charity (via the welfare state) but I disagree.
Government-controlled Medicaid, for example, is riddled with fraud, waste, and unnecessary expenses, and is absolutely bleeding this country dry. In the field, we see endless patients abusing this system, racking up million dollar hospital bills on a regular basis with no thought to the burden they are placing on tax paying individuals across the nation, who are just trying to do the right thing and live responsibly. By allowing individuals to continually exploit others on such a massive scale, you are setting up a system destined to fail.
Rather than say that we should give endless and “free” healthcare access to all persons living in this country, I believe we should instead focus our efforts on curtailing the rising costs of healthcare. For starters, I believe that insurance companies are largely to blame. Hospitals are artificially increasing their prices for services because they know that insurance companies are going to heckle down the final bill price until both parties come to an agreement. This is why you often see hospitals willing to accept a cash payment for a massive discount in order to bypass insurance companies altogether.
We also need to accept that fact that medical care costs are rising because of both natural causes and increasing complexity and innovation of the field. Natural causes are those such as inflation and rising costs of living requiring higher salaries for providers, higher utility bills, higher taxes, etc. Just as cars and house prices will continue to get more expensive over time, healthcare costs will inevitably rise alongside it.
Secondly, we have to acknowledge that medical care is ever increasing in complexity and will, therefore, require higher billing over time. For example, we used to only have an x-ray machine, but now we have MRI machines which cost a lot more to own and operate.
I also believe that we could attempt to promote competitive priced healthcare based on levels of thoroughness. A lot of doctors will currently order every test under the sun because it helps them diagnose a patient easier. Doing this is more thorough, sure, but it could also be seen as somewhat wasteful, and costs could be decreased if providers were choosier and more cautious while ordering expensive diagnostic tests. Understandably this could open up legal can of worms with lawsuits of medical malpractice, but if a system were designed with informed consent for patients to opt out of highly expensive therapies in exchange for cheaper ones, this might work.
Once again, we return to the concept of affording what you can. If you would like a lower hospital bill and are willing to have less thorough, but likely still adequate healthcare, then you should be able to opt out of some expensive testing. Alternatively, if you would like the most thorough healthcare possible, you should be required to pay for it yourself.
In conclusion, government healthcare entitlement programs are not human rights. They violate the true human rights of liberty and freedom of other Americans to achieve their goals. Healthcare is a privilege, and like other privileges, it should be obtained based on individual affordability.