I have been asked a lot of truly offensive things in my years as a chronically ill patient. When’s the baby due? Uh, that is just steroids, thank you. Why are you in a wheelchair? Don’t your legs work? Grrr…
However, a couple of weeks ago, a “friend” asked me a question that has been simmering in the back of my mind. Why do you think you are entitled to healthcare? It was not rhetorical. He wants to know when healthcare became a “right”. Usually I am pretty good at separating people’s lack of respect for basic human compassion with my own condition, but I have to admit…this one has really punched me in the gut. Why do I feel I have the right to be alive? Hmm…let me noodle on that one.
Without medical intervention, including a lot of prescriptions, I would be dead. There is no question about that. My condition is fatal if not treated. So where do I get off with this crazy notion I should be allowed to live, when it costs so much money? Maybe I am selfish. I want my daughter to have a mother, my husband to have a wife. I do my part to contribute to medical research through the NIH, which I think compensates for the free care I receive there. My life has some value, although some days it is harder for me to see that. (Especially when people question my right to be alive, because it costs money…like dollars are the most important thing in the world.)
I believe all people deserve the opportunity to live their best lives. Everyone should be able to access quality healthcare. Nobody should have to suffer. We spend more per capita than all but three nations, and we still don’t have it right.
In 2010, U.S. public entities spent $3,967 per person on healthcare. That’s far more than Germany, Canada, France, Britain, and all of the other countries we conservatives normally think of as socialist dystopias.
This point is so compelling that it has become a standard talking point on the left. “Not only would a single-payer system provide healthcare to everyone,” they say, “but it would also reduce the deficit.” And they’re right. (Forbes)
The Constitution says, “Promote the general welfare.” I think the health of the citizens definitely falls under this category. And if we can do that for less money than what we are spending now? Why wouldn’t we? Do we value life? Do we value the lives of our neighbors, our friends, our family members? If we do, then I say we do not have a choice. We absolutely MUST provide each and every person with access to quality medical care. Otherwise, we are telling some people their lives are more or less important than others. I don’t want to live in that a country that does that.