Healthcare Should Be Treated As A Right Or A Privilege

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In President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1944 State of the Union address, a list of proposed economic rights to which the president believed all Americans were entitled was enumerated in what is now popularly referred to as the “Economic Bill of Rights” (Roosevelt). Among the rights listed was “The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health,” (Ibid). Seventy-one years on, this proposed right is rather poorly guaranteed, if at all. Even after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the Census Bureau reported that 10.4% of the US population, approximately 33 million people, was uninsured throughout 2014, severely limiting their access to healthcare (Radnofsky). The United States ought to guarantee universal access to healthcare through a single-payer system because it is ethical and practical while alternative plans fail to provide sufficient benefit. The primary ethical issue of healthcare systems is whether healthcare should be treated as a right or a privilege. America’s founding documents provide the ethical basis for a system guaranteeing access to healthcare. The Declaration of Independence famously states that all people are granted the natural rights of “…life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” A government that sought to protect these rights, especially the right to life and the pursuit of happiness, would logically have to guarantee healthcare to its citizens as good health is a prerequisite to these rights.

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