Health care debate irony

What I love about putting the old and new adjacent are the creative insights they provide when side by side. Someone explained to me that health care is not a right because we are only guaranteed “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Health care, he continued, is something of a privilege. I have heard that repeated several times  lately, sometimes attributed to the inspiration of Dr. Ron Paul. What confuses me is how the proponents of this line of thinking define life. For that, I turned to the Oxford English Dictionary:

The active or practical part of human existence; the business, active pleasures, or pursuits of the world; freq. to see life. Also: the position of participating in the affairs of the world, of being a recognized member of society; esp. in to begin (also enter) life, to settle in life.

How one participates in the practical part of human existence sick with an infection, out of commission with a broken limb, or struggling with cancer is beyond me.

Here is an excerpt from a December 3, 2009 Reuters story:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Most Americans would like to see a “public option” in health insurance reform but doubt anything Congress does will lower costs or improve care in the short term, according to a poll released on Thursday.

The survey of 2,999 households by Thomson Reuters Corp shows a public skeptical about the cost, quality and accessibility of medical care.

Just under 60 percent of those surveyed said they would like a public option as part of any final healthcare reform legislation, which Republicans and a few Democrats oppose.

Here are some of the results of the telephone survey of 2,999 households called from November 9-17 as part of the Thomson Reuters PULSE Healthcare Survey:

* Believe in public option: 59.9 percent yes, 40.1 percent no.

* 86 percent of Democrats support the public option versus 57 percent of Independents and 33 percent of Republicans.

* Quality of healthcare will be better 12 months from now: 35 percent strongly disagree. 11.6 percent strongly agree. 29.9 percent put themselves in the middle.

* Believe the amount of money spent on healthcare will be less 12 months from now: 52 percent strongly disagree, 13 percent strongly agree.

* 23 percent believe it will be easier for people to receive the care they need a year from now.

The nationally representative survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percent.

Has anyone calculated the cost of no health care? What are the numbers if all the people who currently have no care suddenly need to be fed and housed because they cannot work due to preventable health problems? I am trying to think this through here. While I am thinking it through I learn that the person who does did not believe in the public option was just laid off and lost health insurance, about which I sincerely feel badly. In an odd twist of fate, the stress of not being able to “participate in practical part of human existence” has this individual feeling badly. I was not rude enough to suggest seeing a physician.

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