Is Universal Healthcare a Moral Right?

It comes down to a matter of moral rights. Is healthcare a moral right to be expected, or is healthcare a privilege to be enjoyed? Today people think it is a right. But rights come with corresponding duties. So, if it is a right, then others have the corresponding duty to ensure you enjoy that right. If, on the other hand, it is a privilege to be enjoyed, then you cannot demand it, you can only appreciate it when you are afforded the opportunity to enjoy it.

The proponents of universal healthcare are framing their argument in terms of rights. They would try to persuade us to believe that individuals have the moral right to healthcare. If that is true, then it necessitates that taxpayers are morally duty-bound to fund it, even against their will.

What is not asked is what ground one might have for holding that each individual human being be accorded this basic rights in any kind of polity whatsoever. Does the US Constitution provide for this right? Does divine law provide for this right? From whence do proponents of universal healthcare derive this right?

All kind of sound-bite arguments are used in this battle for the minds and money to support universal healthcare:

“We should help the needy.” Yes, but all such help is to be voluntary, according to Scripture. Taxation isn’t voluntary it is involuntary. It is good and right to give to the poor and needy, but it is not right to demand that of each other or else face consequences.

“It is fair.” Is it really fair to take something from one person and give it to another? Is it fair to require individuals to fund other people’s bills involuntarily? How is that morally defensible? That’s sounds like stealing.

“We are responsible.” How? According to what moral law? What made us responsible? What made us duty-bound to fulfill that supposed right?

“It is just.” By the use of what standards can a compelling case be made for the taking money from one group of people, and handing it over to another group of people? I don’t see how the massive transfer of funds, (which is required in a system that exists to provide such a fiscally demanding service as healthcare) is justice-enhancing. In fact, I find it to be just the opposite.

Why isn’t personal responsibility for the care of one’s own health not the overriding duty? Why does one person have the right to expect another to provide what one is duty-bound to provide for himself? Why are other people duty-bound to fund my own healthcare? Why not my mortgage? Why not my grocery bill? Better yet, in today’s economy, why not my gasoline bill? They may be compelled by love to do so, and that would be the enjoyment of a privilege on my part, but on what basis can I expect them to provide this for me as a moral right?

I think we are becoming an increasingly self-absorbed culture that expects way more than we should. We think the world owes us what we want, and we get mad if the world doesn’t give it to us. The promise of universal healthcare is an appealing one, but it appeals to our greed, not our personal responsibility.

That’s the lure: “You can have it for free. We’ll give you this right.” But you don’t have a right to everything our culture says you ought to have. Beware of greed. Beware of thinking the world owes you anything. It doesn’t. You owe the world the blessing of being a contributing member of society, not a freeloader.

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33 Responses to Is Universal Healthcare a Moral Right?

  1. Paul Walker says:

    Interesting thoughts. As you say, with rights come responsibilities (duties). The only other way to obtain a “right” is to give up freedoms. For example, my kids have the right to be fed and provided for by me, but with that they give up the freedoms of making choices for themselves.

    I wonder whether those advocating Universal Healthcare are prepared for what they will have to give up. (Or more likely, they don’t care what freedoms we have to give up.)

  2. Scott W. Kay says:

    Paul,

    You make a great point about other types of rights: those we bestow on each other. In fact, you could think of them in several categories:

    1. Legal rights: Those rights conferred on individuals or groups of individuals by a law enacted by an entity of authority. So, for example, if Universal Healthcare is passed into law, then individuals will have a legal right to it.

    2. Those rights which arise from the practice of making promises. So, if I promise my son I will take him to the ball game, then he has the right to expect fulfillment of that promise. This is a right granted.

    3. Those rights that people get to enjoy in certain practices simply by virtue of the rules of that practice. Like a ball game.

    But none of those type of rights belong to people simply by virtue of being humans. Just being a person does not automatically bring with it those rights. They are not rooted in moral necessity, only in social community, even though these rights, once conferred carry with them moral obligation to bestow.

    So if, as we are being told, Universal Healthcare is a right, then what exactly is the moral right that would justify healthcare as a legal right?

  3. PalMD says:

    Part of this depends upon what we value. Which “absolute” (God-given or however you wish to define it) rights do we have?
    Most would agree we have a right to life.
    Most would agree we have a right to worship or not, in whatever way we choose.

    Do we have a right to health?
    Well, to a certain extent, we have control personally over this…we can behave in healthy ways…not smoking, eating well, etc. However, that is only part of the health story. Modern healthcare is expensive. I can afford it. But what about those who can’t, despite working and following society’s rules?
    We certainly have a responsibility to our fellow man, but how should that be exercised?

  4. Scott W. Kay says:

    PalMD,

    I agree with you that we have a right to personally ensure our own health. The problem that I see here is the assumption that we have a right to demand that other people are duty-bound to pay for my health.

    I believe that there should be a mechanism in place for helping those who are truly in need. I truly believe that most taxpayers aren’t so heartless to forbid such a use of tax money. But as such. that is an act of societal compassion, a privilege that the needy enjoy, if you will. I don’t believe that even those of us who cannot afford adequate healthcare coverage have a moral right to demand someone else pay the tab. It may be a privilege we get to enjoy, but I don’t have the right to demand it. But the proponents of universal healthcare would have us assume that this is a right that one class of people are duty-bound to provide for another. I disagree with that assumption and that kind of system.

  5. Deborah McClintock says:

    Before I address your views and statements about Universal Healthcare being a moral right or not, I will explain where my family fits into this much heated topic.

    We are a family of five. My husband has insurance through his work. Our youngest daughter was born in 1998 and diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. She spent her first three months of life in the hospital. At that time we had great insurance that covered 100% of her hospital bills. As my husband changed jobs-so did our insurance. We could not keep up with all the medicines our daughter needed- they cost over $5,000 a month out of pocket- we could not even make all the co-pays. We applied for Medicaid and SSI to help with her medical costs. The hoops you must jump through to get help from these programs is staggering. We have fought many battles with the insurance companies over what they say they cover and what they decide to cover. I could give more details but I want to address your thoughts at this point.

    You state: “Does the constitution provide for this right?”

    The constitution states- “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    Welfare in the above is defined as :welfare n. 1. health, happiness, or prosperity; well-being

    So the constitution does address health and well being doesn’t it?

    You state: “It is good and right to give to poor and needy, but it is not right to demand that of each other or else face consequences.”

    It is not just the poor and needy we are talking about anymore. It is middle class Americans – PalMD stated: “But what about those who can’t, despite working and following societes rules?”

    You state: “Is it fair to take something from one person and give it to another? That sounds like stealing”

    You state: ” By the use of what standards can a compelling case be made for taking money from one group of people and handing it over to another group of people?”

    So does that mean when you are old enough to collect Social Security you are going to refuse it??? How about Medicare? Should we stop using public libraries or driving on our highways because our tax money is used to fund these? Is that stealing?

    You state: “Why isn’t the personal responsibilty for the care of one’s own health not the overiding duty?”

    You state: “The promise of universal healthcare is an appealing one but appeals to our greed not our personal responsibility.”

    It is my resonsibility as a parent to take care of my child’s health. I do not see myself as ” greedy” because I think there is a better way to do this. I have taken care of my child through insurance and Medicaid. Yes, medicaid is government program- it is funded by the government and controlled by each state. Medicare is also controlled by the government. I, as well as many other Christians have needed the use of these programs. Why then do the same Christians scream, “Socialism” when it is suggested that we have a better health system that takes the “greed” you speak of away from the insurance and pharmacuetical companies.

    You state: “You owe the world the blessing of being a contributing member of society-not a freeloader.”

    It seems ironic that you would use the word “owe” . You say we owe the world – yet you do not think we should try to achieve what we may believe is the best way to insure the health of our children? My family are contributing members of society and have no intention of “freeloading”. I do not expect universal healthcare to be ” free” anymore than I expect “Social Security” to be free.

  6. Scott W. Kay says:

    Deborah,

    First of all thanks for stopping by the blog and commenting. We’ve been praying for your family.

    The Constitutional statement promising “general Welfare” is not a reference to the welfare system. It is a reference to the general health, happiness, and fortunes of a person or group. It is NOT a reference to persons or groups receiving government financial assistance for basic material needs. The term welfare is now commonly used to refer to the latter idea, but that was not envisioned by the framers of the Constitution, nor is it a moral right inherent in being human.

    I do believe that it is good and right to give to the poor and needy, whether they are lower, middle, or whatever class. But I do not believe that we are to be REQUIRED to give, but that we should do so WILLINGLY. We SHOULD give to those in need as an act of love and compassion, but we SHOULD NOT be forced to do so by our government, church, or otherwise.

    I do believe that taking from one person or group, against their will (i.e. through taxation), in order to redistribute that money to another person or group is, in fact, the definition of stealing. When the government does it, we could more specifically refer to it as confiscation.

    You state: “So does that mean when you are old enough to collect Social Security you are going to refuse it??? How about Medicare? Should we stop using public libraries or driving on our highways because our tax money is used to fund these? Is that stealing?”

    As a matter of fact, since you ask, as a minister I have taken the option to conscientiously exempt myself from Social Security precisely because I do not believe that others should be required to fund my retirement. I believe that that is my responsibility not yours or anybody else’s.

    My questions in this blog are aimed precisely at the morality of this right. I have already commented above that voters can willingly grant each other the LEGAL right to be taxed and have that money used for libraries and roads and such. If we agree among ourselves as a citizenry (or via our representatives) to tax each other for specific purposes and enact laws requiring that tax money to be spent on X, Y, or Z, then yes, at that point we do have a LEGAL right to expect those things to be made available to us. This would be true of universal healthcare if it is enacted. That’s not stealing, that is consenting.

    But I am not asking about the LEGAL right, I am asking about the MORAL right, or the NATURAL right that others are morally duty-bound to provide these things for us.

    You state: “It is my resonsibility as a parent to take care of my child’s health. I do not see myself as “greedy” because I think there is a better way to do this. I have taken care of my child through insurance and Medicaid. Yes, medicaid is government program- it is funded by the government and controlled by each state. Medicare is also controlled by the government. I, as well as many other Christians have needed the use of these programs. Why then do the same Christians scream, “Socialism” when it is suggested that we have a better health system that takes the “greed” you speak of away from the insurance and pharmacuetical companies.”

    I agree with you. You are person responsible to take care of your child’s health. The government is not, and taxpayers are not, unless they have consented to such. Our representatives in government have enacted that as a law, so that is why I can say that you have a LEGAL right to avail yourself of the help afforded to families such as yours through Medicaid.

    And yes, on a personal level, I am quite glad that those funds are available to you. I do think that you need financial help. I am just trying to combat the assumption that anyone is morally duty-bound to have consented to such a law and program to begin with.

    I agree with you that the current health care system is fatally flawed. You are right that the insurance and pharmaceutical companies have created a broken system precisely because of greed. But it is also greed to expect that I have a right to expect my neighbors to pay for things for me whether they like it or not.

    You state: “It seems ironic that you would use the word “owe” . You say we owe the world – yet you do not think we should try to achieve what we may believe is the best way to insure the health of our children? My family are contributing members of society and have no intention of “freeloading”. I do not expect universal healthcare to be ” free” anymore than I expect “Social Security” to be free.”

    (Digression: Incidental to this particular debate, I just do not believe that government-sponsored universal healthcare is the better solution (for reasons I alluded to in the “Part 2” post on this topic). There is a better way, but it is not the government way. Besides the military (which is their unique responsibility), what do they run well? Those nations that do have universal healthcare do not have the best care, and only very very few people would argue otherwise.)

    I said “owe” quite purposefully. We owe each other love. Romans 13 clearly states so. That word helpfully points out the backwards mentality that this rights debate is saturated with. We think others owe us. That is our primary orientation in this debate. Scripture says we owe others. We owe them brotherly love. That is to be our primary orientation.

    Like you I do not expect anything to be free. Nor do I have the MORAL right expect for anyone else to foot my bills against their will. That would be immoral.

  7. Deborah McClintock says:

    Thanks Scott for your prayers!

    I did not define “welfare” as a reference to the welfare system- I said it was defined as follows :
    Welfare : n. 1. Health, happiness, or prosperity ; well-being
    maybe you got confused because I accidently put my ” : ” mark before the word “Welfare” instead of after it.
    We come from to two very different viewpoints and experiences when it comes to healthcare. I am going to agree -to respectfully disagree with you. : )

    Your fiesty sister-in-law : )

  8. PalMD says:

    I don’t have the answers on how to provide health care for all…it does have to be done, because the health of each person affects everyone–for example, if someone doesn’t have access to vaccination or clean water, they can spread disease.
    So if health care affects more than just the individual who isn’t covered, how do we respond?
    Like I said, I don’t have all the answers, but we must look for them. Private charity is unreliable and unorganized.

  9. Scott W. Kay says:

    Deborah – Truce…Respectfully. 🙂

    PalMD – Thank you for your input on this, especially since (I assume) you are in the medical field. As with you, I have tried to be quick to say that I do not have all the answers on the practicalities of a solution, and I wholeheartedly agree that something must be done. My aim in this little blog has simply been an attempt to go to the root of the issue and to ask the deeper moral question than the one at the practical level (not to minimize that). To me, this is a fundamentally philosophical question. Since those promoting such a solution have been beating the drum for universal healthcare for years by talking about it as a right, I have just wanted to ask where that supposed right arose from in the first place. I think that the response to proponents of UH ought to be made at this more fundamental level first, and then devise a practical solution (hopefully soon).

    I just hope that the end solution isn’t a government one, but one that relies less and less on corporations and more and more on individual payers. Unfortunately, I think that some sort of government-sponsored taxpayer-funded universal healthcare is what we’ll end up with if the politicians have their way (and they are).

  10. Amy Cahoon says:

    Is universal healthcare a moral responsibility?
    NO, It is not a moral one. IT is a health insurance policy covering all of us and is paid for by the premiums we will be paying to one insurance company ( OUR GOVERNMENT). Those premiums will be the extra taxes all of us rich and poor will be paying. Thus no one will be freeloading.
    As to the moral questions you raise, I would like to add few of my own.
    1. What morality is served by private health insurance companies taking advantage of people in order to enrich few persons at the top?
    2.what moral principle that justifies the denying of coverage for needed medical procedures that premiums had been paid to have them covered?
    3.Is it moral for the rich to rob the poor through the use of their lopsided governmental influence bought and paid for with excessive profits they make by overcharging the sick? Have you looked lately at the amounts of political contribution ( BRIBES ) that the insurance and pharmaceutical companies give to politicians from both parties?
    4. How moral is it to give those obscene amounts of money packages to their top executives?
    Enough of this of dwelling on whether or not health care is a moral responsibility, we should instead be looking to develop a health care system that delivers quality health care to all. No one , that I know of, is proposing or advocating having it for free. Taxes for it should come from all the premiums that individuals, businesses, churches, other religious and educational institutions, and governments at all levels are paying now to private insurance companies.
    The privately delivered health care system has failed miserably. The only part of our health care system that is working well is that of MEDICARE. It is a government program. It is not a charity. It is paid for through taxes that all of us are paying plus a small monthly affordable premiums. I do trust my government to be responsive to my wishes as a tax payer and as a voter. I do not trust private insurance companies.
    As to being forced to pay taxes for services that one does not approve of( in your case for universal health care) We all have to accept it as a price for living in one country. Some dont think that they should be paying taxes to support churches. Is it moral to force tax payers who disagree with your church to support it and its program.What about taxes for road? For defending our country? While we are at it why don’t we advocate privatizing all the services that our government at all levels now provide?!
    In conclusion I do agree with you that charity shoul;d be privately and voluntarily given. However, should a seriously ill person needing expensive medical care go around begging until she finds a generous compassionate person willing and able to pay for her care? Why don’t we just tell her that she should go die?! things like that are happening all over this Christian country.
    I wonder if Jesus were here what he would say or do? Would HE, facing a person in pain, stop to discuss with the PHARISEES of our time the morality of healing on the Sabeth? Would HE ask her to prove that she is not ” a free loader ” before he agrees to help her!

  11. Scott W. Kay says:

    Amy,

    Welcome to the conversation, but did you happen to read the additional comments I’ve already made? In them I tried to speak to a number of your concerns. I’m no fan of the current system we are now under. I’m just less of a fan of the government being the new bully. To think they will be less corrupt and more effective in delivering healthcare is a pipe dream. And I am of the persuasion that it will cost everybody more money to have less quality care than we have now. There are plenty of international examples of this. Becoming more of a welfare state than we already are is not a wise solution, no matter how appealing it may sound to many for the short term. We will loose more than we will gain, and may very well live to regret it in our own lifetimes, if it isn’t left for our children and grandchildren to fix (this crisis keeps looming over us already with a poorly run Social Security program, and we know that Medicaid, as good as it is, is also headed for financial trouble. Congress just keeps extending D-day on these things. But something’s gotta give).

    By the way, I have no idea where you got the notion that tax money goes to churches. It does in European nations, but not in America.

  12. Amy Cahoon says:

    Dear Scott,
    Please check out when was the last time your church paid property taxes on its building and let me know how much if any.
    If some groups like churches are exempt from paying property taxes doesn’t that force the rest of the tax payers to pay more?
    I do totally disagree with you when you claim that Our Great government can not be trusted to run a nation wide health insurance program. The Medicare Program is run very well.
    If you do not trust our government to run things well and think that it is corrupt whom would you trust ?
    I have family in Canada and they think their medical care has been great. They do have some times have to wait for elective procedures, but so do we in the United States. The difference is: no one there is denied care for any reason while thousands of our citizens go without care or have to beg for it.
    Neither Medicare nor Social Security would be in any financial difficulties once all the money that we now pay to private insurance companies is diverted to them under a government run universal insurance plan.
    Our government can be entrusted with the the task of running an efficient and just health insurance program . If you can think of any other group that can do it as good or better please name it.
    And please stop JUDGING people as “free loader” . Were the people who followed Jesus to the mountain without bringing food for their journey Free Loaders?! Jesus did not chase them away? He fed them instead.

  13. Scott W. Kay says:

    Amy,

    You obviously have a great deal more faith in government than I do. I am just not willing to make that leap. I do not think they have a good track record, nor do I think we should become dependent on them to that degree. I do not believe any government ought to be entrusted or empowered with womb-to-the-tomb care for our lives. The group that I believe can do it better is called “individuals” – individuals should be ultimately empowered with that kind of responsibility. Unfortunately that power is not really in the hands of individuals these days, but in the hands of insurance and pharmaceutical corporations. I wholeheartedly agree with you that that is not good system, just as it would not be good to shift that same power over to the government, we will loose just as much freedom with them running things as we currently do with the corporations, if not more. I don’t want to go from the frying pan into the fire.

    I do think that Americans have an increasingly ingrained welfare mentality, where the government is expected to provide for our needs in increasing degrees. America currently has programs that provide for the needy on an as-needed basis (which I am personally glad for!), but this has not made people more grateful for the help, it has only made them increasingly demanding for more, more, more. That kind of service and care has got to come from somewhere, and it will always be out of the taxpayer’s pockets. That’s the “freeloader” mentality that offends me. (In the same way that if our church came to us and asked us for money to help a needy person, and then the church began demanding (not asking) that we do it every week whether we wanted to or not. We would rightfully find that to be offensive and a display of an ungrateful attitude toward us, the givers.)

    Jesus gave willingly to the poor and needy, and that is how all giving should be: voluntary. But he didn’t feed them every meal the rest of their lives, nor did they become so brash as to demand it. Those are the moral problems that I have with Universal Healthcare: 1) it is being demanded as a right, and 2) it would be a compulsory, not voluntary, payment by taxpayers.

    By the way, for the record, I never claimed that churches pay property taxes, I only responded to the statement that they actually received tax money.

  14. Amy Cahoon says:

    Dear Mr. Kay,
    I still claim that most people are having to pay more than their share in taxes because the Religious institutions are exempt from paying taxes on properties they own, yet they receive all the services for FREE ! Does that earn them the title of free loaders?
    You say that the power to provide for health care should be the responsibility of ” individuals”and that they can do it better than government. I say yours is the pipe dream.
    Let all the businesses that pay to have their employees covered by heal;th insurance stop paying for it . Let the government get out of the business of insuring the old people and the poorest of the poor. Let us tell all those people that from this day forward their health care is their responsibility and theirs alone. Let this individuals Utopia of your commence as of tomorrow. Are you willing, Mr Kay, to face the consequences of what you advocate?
    By the way who pays for your and your families health care?

  15. Scott W. Kay says:

    Amy,

    In the interest of trying to keep this conversation as amicable as possible, here’s how it appears that we differ. If I have misrepresented you, I ask for your forgiveness in advance.

    1.) You are not satisfied with the current system run by insurance and pharmaceutical companies, since it often denies and/or delays good healthcare to those who have paid insurance premiums (or whose employer has for them). On this I think we are agreed.

    2.) You view the government as an entity in which we can place a great deal of faith to be granted the power to care for the healthcare needs of all the individual citizens of the nation, and that they can do a better job of it. Individuals should not be expected to directly provide for their own healthcare needs, but should be expected to provide for the healthcare needs of both themselves and others by empowering the government to take as much money as they want/need through taxation in order to spend it on the care of those whom the government deems qualified to receive care, how they should receive it, where they should receive it, when, and by whom.

    I view the government as a necessary and useful entity that should be entrusted with certain powers – powers that ensure that individuals are allowed to pursue their rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness without the interference of the government. Our nation was founded on that principle. I believe, in the words of the preamble to our Constitution, that government should be entrusted with the power to: “1.) form a more perfect Union, 2.) establish Justice, 3.) insure domestic Tranquility, 4.) provide for the common defence, 5.) promote the general Welfare, 6.) and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

    I believe that when the government goes beyond those duties that they are overstepping their power and taking freedoms away from individuals. That is the concern I have with universal healthcare, namely, that the government becomes an entity which exercises power over individual’s lives which is beyond the scope of the government’s stated purposes and areas of jurisdiction, and in the process takes away the power and rights of individuals to ensure their own welfare through some system devised by them (not the government) in a free market economy, and that the best way the government could be helpful in this endeavor is to create (legislatively, taxation-wise, etc.) an economic environment where such a system could thrive. No, I don’t think we have that system now, but I am optimistic that we could have a system that, while not quite a utopia, would be better than the current one or a government-provided one. In other words, I believe that the citizens of this nation could come up with a very effective system of healthcare if the government would get out of the way, not take over. By no means would this would be an overnight solution, but it is one that we need to secure for ourselves.

    So, (to oversimplify it) we both believe that the current system is bad. You trust government more, I trust it less. You trust individuals less, I trust them more. You either believe that the government has the right and responsibility or you want to grant them those things (I’m not sure which it is) to require individuals to pay for each other’s healthcare. I believe that individuals are endowed with the right and responsibility to provide for their own healthcare, and that if the government requires individuals to care for other people’s healthcare that it will be an infringement of individual rights. We both believe that those who are poor should be helped. You believe that this need should be absorbed into a universal system of healthcare. I believe that this can be done through voluntary giving (charity), and (you may find this surprising) even through a LIMITED amount of governmental assistance (As is in place now. This is because: 1.) As PaulMD commented, “Private charity is unreliable and unorganized.” 2.) As I have earlier commented, I truly believe that most taxpayers aren’t so heartless as to begrudge such a use of tax money for those who are truly in need. But as such, that is an act of societal compassion, a privilege that the needy enjoy, not a right they can demand.).

    Again, I have tried not to misrepresent your views. If I have, it was unintentional.

  16. Amy Cahoon says:

    Mr Kay,
    No, you have not misrepresented my position. However, you did left unanswered couple of my questions.
    We can be spending the rest of our life in argument over theory. This will not resolve the problem this country has in caring for the sick be they rich, poor, or middle class. The statistics does not show us to be towards the top among the western nations. We do not take care of our people well in the health areas.
    If you investigate in honestly the way people in countries that have adopted Universal health care feel about it you will find out that they are very satisfied. Check with Canadians, Swedes, French, Britishers.
    Unless you can show me the system you envision based on individuals that would deal with the health care crisis in this country, I will remain convinced that we must go towards a government run universal health care system, like that of Medicare. It is the only practical way to do it. All other solutions are nothing but pipe dreams.

  17. Amy Cahoon says:

    I thought that it might be helpful to our future discussions to share this item with you.
    I also recommend that you see the movie Sicko. I really hope that you see past loaded words, and use your leadership position to help your friends see the need for health insurance to cover everyone.

    ATLANTA, Aug. 30 — In a stark departure from past practice, the American Cancer Society plans to devote its entire $15 million advertising budget this year not to smoking cessation or colorectal screening but to the consequences of inadequate health coverage.

    The campaign was born of the group’s frustration that cancer rates are not dropping as rapidly as hoped, and of recent research linking a lack of insurance to delays in detecting malignancies.

    Though the advertisements are nonpartisan and pointedly avoid specific prescriptions, they are intended to intensify the political focus on an issue that is already receiving considerable attention from presidential candidates in both parties.

  18. Amy Cahoon says:

    MR. Kay<
    Did you see the movie Sicko yet? I am curious as to your reaction to the areas that were covered in it.

  19. Scott W. Kay says:

    Amy,

    I can’t say I have. I missed several other movies in the theaters this summer so I’m now going to have to wait for them to come out on DVD. Maybe I should rent Sicko since I’ve already stuck my foot in the water on the issue.

  20. Amy Cahoon says:

    Good Morning Scott!
    I thought I would share with you some of the conclusions from the American Cancer Society with the question of how moral it is for richest countries in the world to let this happen to that many members of its society?!
    The society’s campaign is rooted in solid research showing that uninsured patients suffering from cancers of the breast, larynx and mouth were much more likely to have these cancers diagnosed at an advanced stage, when they are less curable, than were patients with private insurance. As a consequence, they faced more difficult and more expensive treatments, a diminished quality of life and a greater risk of death.

    Many patients are impoverished by their battles against cancer. A survey last year found that one of every four families afflicted by cancer used most or all of its savings in the battle, including one in five families with insurance. Their limited benefits could not come close to meeting the high costs of cancer treatment.

    With 47 million Americans lacking health insurance and millions more with only limited coverage, it is imperative to provide adequate, affordable, readily available health coverage to everyone. The cancer society doesn’t prescribe how to do that, but its campaign leaves little doubt it must be done.

  21. Scott W. Kay says:

    Amy,

    Thanks for the ACS info. I was unaware of their research on this particular matter, although I think one could have guessed that they would have discovered what they did about the uninsured. It is certainly true (and heartbreaking) that those without insurance usually suffer worst. The question of “what is the best practical solution?” is still debated, and one that I personally am still optimistic can be solved in the free market.

    To that end, I was pleased to see this little report today on some promising approaches to solving the very dilemmas we find ourselves in in America: “Healthy Medical Reforms” at http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=11995

    I don’t know much more about these approaches than what I read in the article, although each one intrigues me to learn more about them. What makes me most glad about these reforms is that they appear to be attempting to address 3 things: 1.) making government less of an obstacle for a viable solution, instead of assuming that it is the perfect solution, 2.) it seeks out ways to create an environment for a free market solution, encouraging affordability through competition among providers, and 3.) it leaves healthcare choices in the hands of individuals and not a third party (be it government or insurance companies).

    We’re not there yet, and the state of things is certainly discouraging, to say the least, but I am at least encouraged that there are some free market efforts going on (albeit small and unnoticed at this point) to reform the current deplorable system. Like you, I want to see those 47 million people get good care that they don’t have good access to currently – at affordable rates.

    But at the same time, I also don’t want to see those who do currently have the ability to get good care to have their healthcare become less adequate, affordable or accessible by having it diminished through an inefficient and monopolistic approach (be it government monopoly or corporate monopoly or near-monopoly).

    Anyway, you are right, it leaves little doubt that something must be done. I’m hoping for a free market solution with minimal government involvement. But you already knew that! : )

    Good day!

  22. Amy Cahoon says:

    Good morning Scott!
    I thought you might want to check this out. I think that the free market is great for buying and selling things. Health is not one of those.
    Michael Moore will be appearing again on Oprah today, Thursday, September 27th. Oprah has received thousands of letters from viewers since Mike’s appearance in June — viewers who wanted to share their own health care horror stories. So she invited a number of them to come on today’s show, which will feature not only Mike but the head of the health insurance lobby in D.C.

  23. Amy Cahoon says:

    Hi Scott!
    How do You respond to this?
    “No one has the nerve to brand this country’s purest systems of “socialized medicine” — the military and veterans hospitals — for what they are. In both systems, care is not only paid for by the government but delivered in government facilities by doctors who are government employees. Even so, a parade of Washington’s political dignitaries, including President Bush, has turned to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for checkups and treatment, without ideological complaint. Politicians who deplore government-run health care for average Americans are only too happy to use it themselves.

    Nor are they eager to tar the vast array of government hospitals and clinics that serve our nation’s veterans. For one thing, the veterans’ hospitals, once considered a second-rate backwater, now lead their private sector competitors in adopting electronic medical records and score well for delivering high quality care at relatively low cost. Even when the veterans’ hospitals were rightly criticized this year for their part in the disgraceful failure to care adequately for soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, there was no clamor to junk or privatize the system, only demands to make it better. ”
    Why allow our president and others in our society to utilize these medical services? Why deny them to the middle and poor classes in our society?

  24. Scott W. Kay says:

    I am pleased to hear that the government is taking care of its employees.

    In response to the last couple of questions, I would say that maybe we need to raise the ante on this. Maybe questions like this could be asked of Americans: “If you had to stand in line for six months in order to get your gallbladder removed, like some people have to do in nations that have socialized medicine, would you still support a nationalized health care system?” There are any number of questions like that that aren’t being asked and should be.

    In fact, maybe we’re actually being very selfish about this whole national healthcare thing. Why stop at Americans? We’re no better than anybody else. Why not free health care for everybody, globally, at all times? Why not free health care for everybody on the globe?

    In fact, why stop at people? After all, we’re told that other species (animals) have rights too. Why not free health care for every domesticated animal, and free health care for every animal in the zoo? Where does this stop?

  25. Amy Cahoon says:

    No, No, No Scott… You got it all wrong! It is not the government that is taking care of its employees. Its you , me , and every tax payer taking care of these “Socialistic” health programs. What a shame that this government is forcing you and me to support such programs!!!!!
    We should demand that they be discontinued.. let our veterans and senior citizens go begging for their medical care. … and while we are at it why not demand that the government programs to take care of uninsured children be stopped! Lets let the free market you advocate so passionately provide for those children. These Children that we insist that they be protected while in the womb.
    In what country do people would have to wait six months in order to get a gallbladder removed?! I only know about Canada for sure. In Canada people have to wait for elective surgeries only. Life threatening situations are taken care of immediately.
    Please stop repeating what is fed us by the insurance industry. It is only interested in the profits it does make from the misery of the sick. How long are we going to continue being dupped?!

  26. Amy Cahoon says:

    Tens of thousands of Medicare recipients have been victimized by private insurers that run the system’s new drug benefit program, according to a review of federal audits.

  27. Amy Cahoon says:

    Socialized medicine!
    Rudy Giuliani’s fake numbers on prostate cancer — which, by the way, he still refuses to admit were wrong — were the latest entry in a long, dishonorable tradition of peddling scare stories about the evils of “government run” health care.

    The reality is that the best foreign health care systems, especially those of France and Germany, do as well or better than the U.S. system on every dimension, while costing far less money.

    But the best way to counter scare talk about socialized medicine, aside from swatting down falsehoods — would journalists please stop saying that Rudy’s claims, which are just wrong, are “in dispute”? — may be to point out that every American 65 and older is covered by a government health insurance program called Medicare. And Americans like that program very much, thank you.

  28. Amy Cahoon says:

    Although many Americans believe that the nation’s veterans have ready access to health care, that is far from the case. A new study by researchers at the Harvard Medical School has found that millions of veterans and their dependents have no access to care in veterans’ hospitals and clinics and no health insurance to pay for care elsewhere. Their plight represents yet another failure of our disjointed health care system to provide coverage for all Americans.

  29. Amy Cahoon says:

    Lisa Girion, writing in The Los Angeles Times, reports that “Woodland Hills-based Health Net Inc. avoided paying $35.5 million in medical expenses by rescinding about 1,600 policies between 2000 and 2006. During that period, it paid its senior analyst in charge of cancellations more than $20,000 in bonuses based in part on her meeting or exceeding annual targets for revoking policies.”

  30. Amy Cahoon says:

    Americans with inadequate health coverage — the underinsured — are a major component of the national health care crisis. Like the uninsured, they can be denied desperately needed treatment for financial reasons; they often suffer financial ruin; and in many cases they die unnecessarily.

    “This is a very significant problem,” said Daniel Smith, president of the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network. “We want to help educate Americans more broadly about the idea that while they think they might be insured, when they’re diagnosed with something as devastating as cancer their policies may not give them the coverage they need.”

  31. Amy Cahoon says:

    Are you still alive scott?!

  32. Amy Cahoon says:

    Are you still alive scott?!

  33. Amy Cahoon says:

    Sandra Hightower became almost frantic with the combined tasks of caring for her daughter and trying to figure out how to pay for the increasingly expensive treatments.

    “Her back surgery, with the reconstruction and all that, was over three hundred and some thousand dollars,” she said. “I had to start doing fund-raisers, bake sales. And the community kicked in, my community here in Nacogdoches. Definitely the high school. And people donated to a benefit fund at the bank.”

    After several months, Brittney was declared eligible for federal disability benefits, which enabled her to qualify for Medicaid. “But we still owed for everything before that,” said Ms. Hightower.

    Brittney fought like crazy to survive, her mother said. But in the end, she didn’t make it. She died, at age 16, on June 5.

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