Myth 17: Health care reform will establish a right to health care.

Everybody in a country with “universal health care” has a “right” to health care, but Americans do not—or so it is argued. “Health care reform” is supposed to correct a moral deficiency in the United States, and, at long last, grant a fundamental human right to Americans.

At present, Americans who have purchased insurance have a contractual right, enforceable in court, to whatever benefits are agreed to in the contract. Federal law entitles them to a screening examination and stabilization if they present to an emergency facility, even if they have no ability to pay—and the hospital and on-call physicians are obligated by law to provide the service.

In an American hospital, women in labor will be delivered; patients with a surgical emergency will have an operation; and patients with a life-threatening medical emergency will be admitted. But later, the hospital will try to collect payment. Americans have no right to receive medical services at taxpayer expense. Those enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, or other government program have an entitlement to certain benefits, determined by politicians and bureaucrats. About half of U.S. medical expenditures are made by government through such programs.

How is the situation different under “universal health care”?

In Canada, patients are entitled to treatment only after they present their insurance card. If they lack a card, say because they are homeless and haven’t signed up for the program, treatment will be denied.

One man in Quebec forgot his card at home, and was denied care, even though his name was in their computer. No card, no service. When he went home to get the card, his appendix ruptured, and by the time the ambulance arrived, he was dead. At age 21. As Mark Steyn writes, “He didn’t make it to 22 because he accepted the right of a government bureaucrat to deny him medical treatment for which he and his family have been confiscatorially taxed all their lives.”

Under “universal health care,” one has no right to care that is timely, convenient, or state-of-the-art. Under a “single payer” (government-payer-only) system, one has no right to pay extra to allow the operating room, imaging center, or clinic to stay open longer—even though this would decrease the waiting time for everyone, including those who could not afford to pay more. One has the right to receive only the services that “society” (politicians and bureaucrats) has decided to make available.

Most nations of the world have a private sector that relieves some of the strain on the public system, though people who receive private services have paid twice for medical care—once for the public services that they do not use, and again for the care they do receive. Canada and North Korea have a single payer; Canadians have the right to pay twice if they go abroad for treatment.

Rights that Americans would lose under proposed reforms include: the right to buy true insurance, for which premiums are based on risk; the right to decline to buy a plan they don’t want; the right to self insure; the right to reap the benefits of healthful living, hard work, and prudent spending; and the right to keep their medical records confidential. If the reforms evolve into a single payer, as many advocates intend, Americans would lose the liberty to use their own property to prolong or enhance their own lives.

Obligations that reform would impose on Americans include: continually proving that they had paid for coverage that the federal government deems acceptable; paying what the government deems to be their “fair share” for insuring persons below a certain income threshold; paying for procedures they deem to be harmful or immoral if coverage is mandated by government; and paying for expanded, costly bureaucracy.

America’s extraordinary prosperity and technological progress occurred in an atmosphere of freedom. The losses resulting from a central chokehold on innovation are incalculable. Advocates of reform often attribute the high cost of American medicine to new drugs, devices, and procedures, and want still-heavier regulation to restrain these advances. Both Americans and the result of the world’s peoples will lose if America is no longer the engine of progress.

Americans are being asked to exchange their birthright of freedom for—politicians’ promises. And to trade their natural, God-given rights to life, liberty, and property for government-granted privileges or entitlements.

If you have to show a card that proves you are eligible to receive a certain service in a certain facility, you do not have a right, only a privilege. A privilege that can be revoked by bureaucrats calculating the gains and losses to “society” from your treatment.

People have come to trust their government entitlement programs, just as they once trusted Bernie Madoff. However, Americans have no constitutional or contractual right to their Social Security benefits, for which they have been taxed all their lives. This was established decades ago by the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of a man who was deported for being a Communist after paying Social Security taxes for 19 years. In upholding the 1954 law that revoked the Social Security privilege for such persons, the Court cited the necessity of Section 1104 of the 1935 Act, entitled “Reservation of Power,” reads: “The right to alter, amend, or repeal any provision of this Act is hereby reserved to Congress.”

The Court ruled: “To engraft upon the Social Security system a concept of accrued property rights would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever- changing conditions which it demands….” (AAPS News, August 2008). Remember that Medicare is part of the Social Security Act.

Fundamental rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution must be abridged to grant a “right” to taxpayer-funded medical treatment. The tradeoff is of true rights for what is actually a privilege or entitlement.

What the government gives, the government can take away. And of course, whatever it gives was first taken from someone.

7 thoughts on “Myth 17: Health care reform will establish a right to health care.

  1. Let me to be clear; there is no “right” to violate rights. Any such “right” is mere thugocracy where one person’s “right” means the enslavement of the person who must supply the “right”, in this case, the “right” to health care. There is no right to the actions of another without consent by contract.

    Leonard Peikoff, PhD, philosopher, said it better than I in his presentation titled “Health Care is Not a Right”, which can be found at the following site:

    It is only the dishonest, the thieves of morality, who attempt to con men of their authentic right to life by espousing the so-called “right” to medical care, men and women such as you see now in the Congress.

    Tell your Representatives and Senators in the Town Hall Meetings that you want no part of their stolen goods. All you want is the protection of your authentic right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, as stated in the Declaration of Independence.

    Mark A. Hurt, MD
    Physician, Patriot

  2. Why do we continue the oxymoron argument that health care is not a right? How did we get into majoring in the minors? How do you separate health and life?

    The examples described in this article are emergency cases. Those are the easy examples. But what about the countless people (Fathers, Mothers, Siblings, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, neighbors, etc.) who are only days away from being emergency cases? And why are we parked on illness care–which has been the sad most costly story of medicine?

    Before we get sidetracked in the minors, click onto this most illuninating link below. And for a population of people (physicians) whose life expectancy continues to be shorter than that of the general US population, let us put ourselves in these people’s places. Please, let the light in!

    Click onto or copy and paste into your brower:

  3. The Obama administration is not advocating a right to health care so much as a “right” to health insurance, providing some minimum level of care. This is an attempt to synchronize our nation’s policy with the United Nations’ policy, which posits a human right to “minimal care.” And when they say minimal, they mean minimal.

    Dr. Ezekiel Emmanuel, Obama’s chief adviser on health care reform, wrote in JAMA that “doctors are too concerned about their Hippocratic Oath”: they need to consider social justice when treating patients. The presumption, once all health care costs are paid by the Treasury, is that there is a finite pie, and care given to an elderly or disabled person is care denied to a younger, healthier patient. To the Emmanuels of the world, the younger patient is to be preferred, because they areideal “world servers, both producing goods and consuming goods (and paying taxes.) Retirees are merely consumers in Emmanuel’s eyes, and thus candidates for euthanasia. His previous contributions to society, his ability to mentor others, his lifetime of acquired knowledge count for nothing to these doctrinaire socialists who obsess about “overpopulation” and limited resources. John Holdren, Obama’s new “Science Czar” advocated secretly sterilizing people by adding chemicals to the water supply in a book he coauthored with Paul Erhlich called “Ecoscience.” Understand what these people are all about, and you don’t need to slog through thousands of pages of arcane legalese.

  4. If an American patient has a right to health care, then I, as a surgeon, will be denied my rights as an American. The physician-patient relationship is a VOLUNTARY agreement that both the physician and the patient maintain. As part of this agreement, as a surgeon, I HAVE THE RIGHT to NOT enter into that agreement and/or NOT be forced by the government to provide services against my will or at reimbursement levels that I do not accept. In order to progress to a single payer or government controlled health care system, my rights will have to be taken away from me. This is why those who advocate for such a system are advocating that health care is “a right” and not a service.

  5. Everything in this article is a myth. No one is proposing a constitutional amendment that would define healthcare as a right. On the contrary, patriotic liberal Americans like myself refute the silly notion that private insurance companies somehow have a right to profit from our desire to live. Even the conservative Swiss healthcare system, one of the few non single payer systems among industrialized nations, requires that all private insurers are non-profit. To state it more clearly: even the free market loving Swiss accept that for-profit insurance companies are an impediment to healthcare.

    RE: the anonymous Canadian who, according to some unknown ultra right-wing blogger, supposedly died due to their evil government-run healthcare system, I would point out that anyone can come up with an anecdote (real or fake) to support even the most nonsensical position. If this is the best example you could find to support your argument, I’m not sure that I really have to add anything to point out just how weak your argument is. However, I would humbly suggest that, when considering matters of national policy, it’s more prudent and useful to focus on a population as a whole rather than a single, dubious anecdote. In that spirit, I refer you to the Wikipedia page on the Canadian healthcare system:

    There you can find a relatively unbiased overview of how the system works and what Canadians think of it, along with links to original source material so you can draw your own conclusions. Here’s a representative quote for those too lazy or hopelessly brainwashed to click on the link and learn:

    “A 2009 Harris/Decima poll found 82% of Canadians preferred their healthcare system to the one in the United States, more than ten times as many as the 8% stating a preference for a US-style health care system for Canada[6] while a Strategic Counsel survey in 2008 found 91% of Canadians preferring their healthcare system to that of the U.S.”

    I guess most Canadians don’t read the same blog as the one cited in your article…

    Your article makes a number of other ad-hominem attacks and unsubstantiated claims that I won’t bother to refute individually. However, I’d again like to emphasize that the left-center majority in this country are not proposing a “right” to healthcare but simply an improvement of the current system, thus making your entire claim nothing more than a thinly veiled straw man that seeks to preserve corporate, rather than public, dominance over the government.

    And to the “surgeon” screaming like a child about what rights he has and what rights I don’t and should not have, please, by all means, cease your practice immediately. There is no shortage of younger, most likely more skilled and less expensive, medical professionals anxious to take your job.

  6. Perhaps those for this socialist state plan are simply very ignorant of WHY this country even is or WHAT it was all about! Universal ANYTHING is not a guarantee! Go ahead and hash out the philosophical debate on the humanities. IT DOESN’T APPLY HERE!

    Daniel Webster wrote “Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern us well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”

    How can one justify telling a bright upstart in their 20’s that goes to the gym five days a week they are MANDATED to purchase (through pool or tax) insurance? And what about the plethora of EXTRA-medical garbage that goes with it in this 2,700 page bill?

    Where were the entitlements when the colonists settled? How about the next 150 years after the signing of the Declaration (which resulted from an oppressive, tyrannical ruling power)? No one expected an outside agency to step in and care for them! Family helped family; neighbor helped neighbor. And the church was not only the center of most towns, but the beating heart of a caring community.

    “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.”
    -Thomas Jefferson

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