There is a debate that goes on in America today over whether healthcareÂ should be consideredÂ a right or a privilege. If it is a right, then it is something that needs to be secured for every individual living in this wonderful country.Â And even though the costs to our personal and nationalÂ pocketbooks Â may be astronomical, we had better find a way to finance it. Afterall, it is a right and needs to be securedÂ as much asÂ the right to a free press, the right to a jury of our peers, and the right to our own pursuit of happiness. But I would argue rather, that it is a privilege. It is surely a privilege to have access to excellent healthcare for every individual, even if it is given at an emergency room in the late hours of the evening.Â And who would dare argue that that is not what is happening here in America today? In September of 2004, I suffered a heart attack that should have taken my life. It didn’t. I was treated emergently at the local hospital where I received 4 coronary stents and walked away–a Â few days later–with a new lease on life and a bill for $113,000. I thank God that I was insured and paid very little of that bill. However, right behind me was a local farm worker who experienced the very same thing. He had no money; he had no insurance; he had no assets.Â And HE GOT THE VERY SAME CARE! Only in America. If healthcare is to be classified as a right, thenÂ shouldn’t Â housing orÂ access to food also be considered rights? Certainly one cannot argue that either of these are any less important than healthcare. Yet, we do not consider themÂ rights enough to supply food and housing for all. Â No, healthcare is a privilege. Thank the Lord that you live in a country where emergency healthcare is rarely more than a few minutes drive away.
About Richard Edgerly, MD
I am a board-certified (not that it matters), Family Medicine physician who practices in rural Washington State. I am the owner of Assurance Healthcare and Counseling Center in the city of Yakima.
Always appreciating what a little humor does to refresh the soul, I have also written a collection of stories about events that have occurred over the years in my practice, and I hope that they will also make you laugh (see Just a Spoonful of Laughter Helps the Medicine Go Down).