Wednesday, October 31 2012
Today Kevin, MD published a post I wrote, Why Health Care is a Civil Right. Thanks to Kevin, especially because I suspect he actually disagrees with me at some level.
His guidelines ask for posts around approximately 500 words, so there was a lot I wanted to put into the post that did not make the cut. For example, I wanted to write about the social norms around illness, and the self-segregation most patients practice, rather than risk embarrassment by being sick in public. I’ve written previously about that here and here.
I also wanted to develop the idea that making healthcare a for-profit business essentially redistributes wealth and social capital away from sick people into the health care system. Health care is not something we choose, it’s something we need; we could quite reasonably consider the price of healthcare a tax on sick people. There just wasn’t the space in the limits of the post.
After I wrote the post, but before it was published, I discovered another argument against the civil rights, this one from patients: that giving everybody health care would decrease the quality of care available to those who already have it. This seems to me strikingly similar to arguments against women’s suffrage, on the grounds that it would dilute men’s vote, or for segregrated education, on the grounds that it would diminish white children’s education. Neither is an acceptable argument, and nor should this logic apply to health care.