The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Healthcare should be seen as a service, not a right

In the last decade, there has been a lot of political discussion regarding healthcare. The main talking points center around the idea of whether or not healthcare is a right to be provided to the citizens of a nation state. 

The purpose of this article is not to delve deeply into the medical industry or to stress over complicated medical jargon, but rather to focus on the question of whether healthcare is a right and the repercussions of the stance that it is such. I will also discuss a free market approach to healthcare as an alternative to state sponsored healthcare. 

In previous articles I have focused on the concept of Natural Rights, but the reason I do so is because many complex questions of the day can be solved when viewing the issues through the lens of these rights. Natural Rights are considered to be so because these are rights you have simply because of the fact that you are human. 

These rights are life, liberty, and property. These are rights to action, not rights to rewards from other individuals. 

Generally speaking, philosophers have determined that there are two types of rights: negative and positive. Negative rights are the freedom from coercion when doing something. Positive rights are claims to what others have. 

Now that we have established what rights are, let’s look at healthcare. Healthcare is the improvement of mental or physical condition via medical services. So healthcare involves consumers seeking services from medical professionals. 

When you compare medical services to any other type of good or service provided, the foundation is the same. Sure, there is a difference in going to the drive thru line at McDonald’s and going to the hospital for surgery on a broken arm, but in both cases someone is either providing you with a good or doing a service for you. So while the cases mentioned are apples and oranges, the foundation that they are both fruit is the same. 

The question that must follow is “why do people believe they have a fundamental right to healthcare?” 

Typically, the answer is somewhere along the lines of “We as people need healthcare to survive, therefore it is a right.” However noble you might think this argument is, it is a false one. 

As humans, we have lots of things we need to survive. Clothing, food, shelter and water are some examples of that. There are also things we do not necessarily need to survive, but there are plenty of things we need to have any sort of life besides living in a shack in the wilderness. 

You need an automobile, electricity, internet, cell phone and the list could go on. What is the difference between these items listed and healthcare? 

I do not see any of these free healthcare advocates advocating for free food and water provided by the government. I do not see anyone holding a sign that reads, “Government should provide cars for all.” 

The motivation behind demanding free healthcare is the fact that costs associated with healthcare can be particularly high. There is plenty of blame to be dealt out, but a government takeover of healthcare is not the answer; the free market approach is the answer. 

When the government holds a monopoly on a service, such as building roads, they have no incentive to produce a better product or take into consideration the opinions of consumers. Why is that? Well, it is quite simple. Tax dollars are never going to stop coming in, and the machines printing money are never going to cease printing. 

According to economists Friedrich Hayek and Murray Rothbard, in the marketplace, firms who produce goods have an incentive to make the best goods and sell them at the lowest possible price because the success of the firm hinges on whether consumers are pleased. 

The free market is literally designed to enhance the lives of producers while enhancing the lives of consumers. Apply this approach to healthcare. 

According to the Mises Institute, there is not a free market for healthcare in the U.S. right now. Arbitrary state lines determine how many firms can compete and government intervention only further complicates the situation. 

When one firm can hold dominance over a territory, then consumers suffer because there is no competition. However, when you introduce competition, these firms must provide better policies for better prices or suffer losing customers. 

To wrap things up, I would just like to reiterate that healthcare is not a right. It is a service provided by medical professionals. Individuals do not have the right to the fruits of another person’s labor, and that is exactly what is happening when we assume that healthcare should be a right. 

We are assuming that I have the right to what someone can do for me. If that is the case, then where does the buck stop? Free internet? Free electricity? Free auto repair? 

In assuming that those who provide services must oblige the whims of those who assert it is their right to have the service for free, we are enslaving the producers to the passions of the consumers. When the government gets involved and decides funding must go to what people deem as their right, then plunder on a mass scale ensues. 

You do not have the right to use the force of the government to steal from everyone in order to pay for the services of a minority that cannot pay for themselves. Voluntary cooperation and charity go much farther than government mandates and force. 

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Healthcare should be seen as a service, not a right