Email L. Henry Platt, Jr.
Health Care: A RIGHT?
First I recommend the reader to find and read Theodore Dalrymle's editorial "Is There a 'Right' to Health Care?" on page A-13 of The Wall Street Journal of July 29, 2009. Dalrymple observes that "free at point of usage" health care "funded by taxation" has made health care in the United Kingdom woefully inadequate and deadly.
My observations from the Land of the Sleeping Giant include personal warnings that those travelers planning to visit Europe avoid the U. K. if they have any, ANY, medical anomalies.
Back here in the United States of America many men, women, and children are de facto uncovered because they have failed to pay the co-payment outstanding from earlier treatments covered and paid for by employer provided insurance. Based on the scuttlebutt available I understand the bills before Congress allow copay requirements, and the European experience demonstrates that reasonable co-payments support better health care. In the end, for a patient to get the best care, he must participate in his own treatment.
IS HEALTH (MEDICAL) CARE (TREATMENT) A RIGHT? << answer >> YES, if the patient or his benefactors are willing to pay the going rate for this care. The framers of the Declaration of Independence and the framers of the Constitution all recognized that Liberty and Freedom are based on basic rights to property of all sorts. The Constitution with Amendments guarantees rights to property and the just use thereof: Freedom to own firearms for procuring food and for personal protection, Freedom from Government's usurpation of homes for the quartering of troops, Protection from Government's taking of property without fair and reasonable compensation, etc. FOR ANY LAW to be effective under the Constitution of the United States of America, it cannot prevent the fair, just, and beneficial use of any person's property, specie or legal tender. NO LAW or regulation which forbids or constrains any person from purchasing medical care for himself or for another with his own funds or by lawful contract for said funds is alien to the Constitution and the basic traditions of our nation.
The object of any truly beneficial legislation is to provide opportunities for certain people of a jurisdiction to earn, build, develop, and achieve goals and benefits without unfairly taxing those who produce the abundance of our land.
Equality is wonderful, but to even begin to equalize everyone will never happen - even in the armed forces or prison. The most productive deserve and usually get more than the indolent. In the health care debate the very wealthy are often happy to pay top dollar for the latest medical advances, and the less affluent may some day enjoy life saving technologies developed originally for the rich and famous because wealthy individuals have purchased enough of a service that the treatment has been refined such that it can be provided at more reasonable cost.
One example of this concept might be dialysis, the filtering of blood when when the liver can no longer do the job effectively. When this procedure was first developed (and I paid $28.55 each month for medical insurance), the print media observed that the cost was prohibitive. Today dialysis is common. In New Haven County, Connecticut there are several venues offering dialysis services.
This example might also serve as an example of one reason why health care costs rise more quickly than general COLAs. Another example of what forces health care costs to rise is the order of the Governor, M. Jodie Rell, that all health care insurance in Connecticut will provide for the treatment of autism. This will substantially increase health care insurance premiums in Connecticut in spite of the statement by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal that he will fight the rate increase sought by Anthem Blue Cross, one of the state's largest providers of health care insurance.
THE ANSWERS are the choices that the legislatures and the people must make in deciding how much money and resources should be used to guarantee good health for the people and to what extent the individual's rights must be legislatively restricted, curtailed, defined, or penalized. Who will decide how much sodium chloride, potassium chloride, butter, margarine, whole milk, skim milk, beer, carbonated beverages, meat protein, dairy protein, beans, nuts, or other choices will be consumed by each person to afford maximum good health?
The final decision is summed up in the tenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
Rights and choices are coupled with responsibilities. Those Americans who think that bureaucrats in Washington (or elsewhere) can, will, or might accept all of the responsibilities for everyone's health care without usurping some or many of rights and choices those Americans currently enjoy are myopic. As an example I cite the case of a forty year old man who needed major surgery. He had a choice: he could spend one quarter of one week's unemployment check to pay his part (copay) of the cost of the surgery or he could buy some beer. He bought the beer!
A ninety year old patient in a Florida Hospital with "DNA" on his chart might have been tortured with life prolonging heart/lung machinery had his heir not phoned the family attorney to allow his father to pass in peace. A fifty-seven year old veteran in Connecticut might have been euthanized without having put his final affairs in order except that his best friend stepped in and legally arranged for the disposition of his assets and lawful avoidance of probate completely as the veteran desired.
© L. Henry Platt, Jr.