Healthcare: Right or Responsibility?


The debate in this country about healthcare insurance has been going on for decades. And recently it has come to my attention that for many people it boils down to a simple binary. Healthcare is seen by some as a responsibility, and by others as a right.

On one side, it is said that each and every person should take primary responsibility for his or her own healthcare and the necessary financial provisions that make that possible. Most folks on that side of the debate are willing to exempt children, although they would, most likely, argue that each child's parents are responsible for the care of their own child.

On the other side there are those who say, healthcare should be the right of every citizen. Each and every citizen in this country should be able to expect high quality healthcare, provided for by the government. Many on this side of the argument would even extend that right to those who are not citizens of our nation, but merely residents.

Like most binaries, I think such black and white thinking tends to polarize rather than clarify. The answer to our nation's healthcare dilemma must lie somewhere between the two. Or maybe, even better, in a combination of the two. Does seeing something as a right automatically rule out personal responsibility? Of course not! I have the right to vote, but I also have the responsibility to exercise that right. I have the right to speak freely about any subject I wish, but I also have the responsibility to use that right in ways that advance the common good.

Rights and responsibility are not mutually exclusive! So how can we craft a system that makes quality healthcare accessible to all, and yet which encourages, fosters, personal responsibility? The answer to that question, I suspect, is the answer to our dilemma. EndFragment

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