Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014
Columns

Is health care a right?


Published:

To believe Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) benefits society, you must accept several false assumptions. The legislation encourages everyone to get health care insurance by punishing those who don't. Anyone who refuses to buy health insurance must pay a fine of 2.5 percent of their income or $2,085, whichever is larger.

Businesses with at least 50 employees are required to provide health care for their full-time workers or pay a fine. The premium costs and health care coverage of these insurance policies are regulated. The insurance of the poor is subsidized.

Proponents of Obamacare claim that health care is a human right. But rights are actions you are either protected from others doing or protected to do. You have a right to self-ownership and are protected from others taking your life. You have a right to freedom of speech and are protected from others silencing you. You have a right to the pursuit of happiness and are protected from others deciding the use of your life.

But health care is not a right. It is the service of a doctor. You cannot have a right that obligates others to serve you. Medical personnel have the right of self-ownership and therefore a right to choose who they labor for.

The presumption that health insurance is a right fails similarly. Insurance is the service of another's capital property. You cannot have a right that demands another's property be taken from them.

You need many things in life that you don't have the right to require others to provide for you. All of us need food and water, clothing and shelter. If we'd like to make headway in life, we need an education and a job. Most of us want love, companionship, entertainment, and purpose. However, none of these are rights. They are just human needs. You have a right to the pursuit of happiness, but you do not have a right to burden others to ensure your happiness.

So health care may not be a right, but is it a basic need we should try to meet?

Most people need coverage for a catastrophic illness or accident. But Obamacare doesn't cover this need, at least not exclusively. Instead, it provides a whole array of routine health care coverage, ranging from doctor visits to treat the common cold to contraception.

U.S. health care costs are 18 percent of gross domestic product. A year's worth of health care events are above average when they cost more than 18 percent of a family's income. If Obamacare were to succeed at meeting this kind of need better than the current health insurance industry, it would have to provide premiums less than 18 percent of a person's income.

For a family of five earning $50,000 a year, 18 percent would mean annual health care costs of $9,000. Because Obamacare covers so many routine medical expenses, the premium to cover these costs for that same family is projected to be $20,000. With the cost to the family already higher than the average cost of a catastrophic event, Obamacare doesn't come close to meeting the goal to cap catastrophic expenses at $9,000.

Obamacare mandates that everyone, even healthy college graduates, either buy health care insurance or pay the fine. To make Obamacare supposedly fair for the higher risk customers, the legislation mandates that no premium be more than three times the least expensive premium. Thus young people are forced to pay premiums that are a third the cost of the dying.

For a healthy young person with little chance of catastrophe or even illness, a premium at even the average health care cost of 18 percent is much too high.

In a free market, most health care for such low-risk people would be quite affordable. But with Obamacare, it is better for them to forgo the expensive coverage and pay the fine.

Only with free-market capitalism do individuals have the liberty to manage their own affairs free from obstacles and threats of the state. In freedom, you have the right to choose what you believe is in your best interest even when I believe you are wrong.

In freedom, you have the right to not purchase health care.

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