Is Medical Care a Right?

When any of us suffers an injury or serious illness we require medical care, so it must be a right that we receive it. Right?

When a large number of people begin to insist that something is a right, we can be sure that the politicians will begin crafting the legislation to declare it so, but calling something a “right” does not make it so. This is clear if we stop to think about it: Medical care is a service that must be performed by a doctor, who must spend years and hundreds of thousands of dollars just to be qualified to begin to deliver medical care. To declare that you have the “right” to receive medical care is to declare that some doctor has the obligation to deliver that care, whether or not you are willing or able to pay him.

This is obviously an untenable situation that highlights the problem with such assertions. We all need food, but does it make sense to assert that someone is therefore obligated to provide us with the food we need? Obviously not. We recognize the market is the fairest and best way to distribute food. The same is true of medical care.

The concept of rights is often referred to negatively. For example, my right to life is a prohibition against someone taking my life. Similarly, my right to liberty prohibits my enslavement. Neither demands that anyone serve me nor provide me with anything; only that they refrain from taking it away. Medical care requires the actions of others, therefore it cannot possibly be a right.

International Medical Graduates Doctors (IMG's)

Photo by DIBP Images

We all have the right to seek medical care, and may receive it if we are able to reach an agreement with a doctor concerning the proper payment for his services.

We need to recognize that the invention of new “rights” is a bonus for the politicians who can tighten their control over how we conduct our lives but there is, in such deception, little or no benefit to the individual, and a good deal of cost in terms of freedom.

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