Health Care as a Civil Right

I left this as a comment on Facebook in an ongoing debate over whether Regal Cinemas is going to cut hours to avoid having to offer health insurance to its employees. I am of the mind that Regal and other companies should happily treat their employees like human beings and offer basic benefits such as health insurance. It’s not like ticket prices aren’t already quite high. But to the point, I’d happily pay another buck if I knew that the concession workers and people who cleaned up the theater were properly taken care of. 

Every single western pluralist capitalist democracy has long ago resolved the issue that we don’t allow anyone – rich, poor, or middle-class – to go without access to medical care. Some have mandatory insurance (Switzerland), other have single-payer plans (UK, France, Canada), but all have some system in place to make sure that there is universal health care coverage.  

Except, of course, the United States, which is not only inexplicably proud in some cases of 40+ million uninsured people whose only access to healthcare is an ER, where the federal, state, and local governments already pay billions to reimburse uncollected bills.

How or why in 2013 we can’t get it together to make sure middle class people aren’t stuck with medical bankruptcies, unpaid/unpayable bills, or other lack of access to needed medical care is beyond me. Yet when confronted with this very real fact, the people who purport to be on the side of “liberty” can do little more except glibly to compare, e.g., chemotherapy treatment to a Twinkie, or emergency surgery to owning a TV.

In what we bill as the best and richest country in the world, absolutely you should have a right to food, shelter, and medical care. But if you start telling the middle class that if they get cancer and are uninsured that they can go screw themselves if they can’t afford the treatment, or go into bankruptcy or massive debt, then what sort of system do we have?

Opponents of single-payer point to the Canadian system’s supposed waiting times. Setting aside that, among Canadians, their medical insurance scheme enjoys something close to 90% approval, which is worse, waiting a week or traveling 100 miles for an MRI, or being unable to afford or obtain one at all. 

4 comments

  • I’m in the healthcare profession and when I show up for work all of my rights can be exercised. When a patient shows all of their rights can be exercised at will. Should I leave the lab can you explain to me how the patient’s healthcare right can be exercised? Their other rights still exists. Now what do you propose the patient do in order to exercise their right to healthcare now that I’ve left the lab? Force me? Then you just infringed on my right.
    In short, healthcare is a right as long as you can perform the care yourself. Cut yourself use your property i.e. a band-aid and presto you just exercised your right. Now if you think I am supposed to use my property and time then I ask you how do I differ from a slave? Healthcare is a business. I don’t know what you do for a living but I bet your services are not given away or done at a discount. Yet people such as you declare we in healthcare should do more.
    My friend should you have a medical emergency you will be seen. Your phone isn’t tied to a credit card for payment when you call 911. A non medical there are free clinics. Want a check up and don’t have insurance call a doctors office and negotiate. You may find a price close to what you are paying for your cell phone plan.

  • After sleeping on your comments I see that you are right that the problem is, that healthcare is a business, which leaves us with what choices Charity or Government run. I am sure you thought about this therefore I’ll respect your insight. In your live do you choose charity run for your commerce or for profit? Does you food come from soup kitchens or do you favor restaurants regarding quality? Are you using government funded computer at the library or brought one from a second hand store?

    I find this so amazing that Regal cinema invoked such a response. A company watching it profit is somehow the bad guy. Have any of you sat and looked at the credits at the end of the film? You do understand these employees worked and with investor’s profits were paid. These employees did not get the first paycheck after you purchased your ticket.

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