When Healthcare Becomes an Entitlement

This is about priority.

Health Care: caring for one’s health assuming someone including the person concerned is concerned about it
Public Heath Care: how the public is so concerned assuming it is
Before addressing personal wishes, contracts, etc. it is important to address the issue of when it is a public concern and a priority at that. As in virtually all cases of moral entitlements the most pressing examples tend to be compensation for attack against a right. One does not have to look far for such an example especially in a nation that officially touts protection of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as the government calling. Perhaps the most official example of that is the requirement for an affordable attorney when charged with a crime–especially a capital offense. No one has any difficulty seeing this as a personal right. The philosophy behind it is easy enough to understand. In protecting human life, the government’s first duty is not to hurt the patient.
But this is a Hippocratic priority and that has to do with medicine. And so it is with public involvement in medical care.

If it is society’s responsibility to place restrictions on the practice of it or the availability of drugs for that matter, that doesn’t lesson society’s responsibility to make access to it reguardless of cost when this raises the cost out of reach of anyone. To protect that right a permit may be issued whenever such a need is so restricted. It could be issued by stricley a government agent or by a private adviser such as a Doctor. In this case the government permit is called a prescription. The concern here is the effect any government intervetion has on the cost of healthcare, be it cost of medicine or teatment. Simply put, no one should lose life or limb due to what government involvement does to the price. If prescriptions were issued before any prescibed treatment was restricted, again, that doesn’t lesson the right of anyone to affordable access once so restricted.

So what of OTC medicines or vitamins not so restricted? In this case, assuming it’s not taxed in any way out of anyone’s reach, it remains an issue of charity–subject to public ideology and personal contributions–no different than starvation, thirst, or freezing, assuming any of these are not the result taxation, imprisonment, or other such public intervention.

The point is this. When was the last time you heard of such entitlement as a protection from government restriction? When was the last time anyone looked to the right to an attorney– something we learn about as school children– as a model of society’s highest medical priority: protection?

For years, we have taken the personal and confidential relationship with an attorney as free enterprise for granted. Among attorneys, the rights of the poor to be protected never seemed to significantly change that. Clearly the public longs for such enterprise to seek medical consultation and recommendation or prescription in all cases that such medical access is unprevented as well; if this arraingement works for lawyers why not Docters?

Whatever public policy shall be, let us at least not lose sight of what our priorities should be.



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