Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Non-Political, Biological, Constitutional, and Economical Argument for Universal Health Care

As a scientist with a grasp of basic economic principles, I am in favor of universal health care. There is a clear correlation between access to health care and overall health. In Northern Australia you are in the humid tropics and everyone is healthy for the most part. Go to the same latitude in Africa and you lose all the health care Australians have and people's livelihoods decrease greatly. This is both a cause and an effect that keeps people not working and lowers life expectancy. I am going to prove the following, 1. Why Health Care is a Public Good, 2. Why Health Care is a prerequisite to a all around high standard of living, 3. Why Health Care is a human right and every member of society needs to have access, and 4. Why Health Care can only be fully implemented with Governmental Intervention.

1. Why Health Care is a Public Good
To define public good, a public good is in this tense is "non-rival – one person consuming them does not stop another person consuming them;" It is non rival because people are only going to have the amount of health care that they require,  there are enough resources to provide for, and over-treatment is not a major concern. Because who actually enjoys going to the doctor?

Furthermore, because of Germ theory, when someone is sick in the middle of a large crowd the bacteria and viruses that the person is infected with spread to other people. If we have one person in society carrying a virus that people are not immune to, and other people get the virus, we are risking an outbreak. In the United States of America, to allow someone to put other people at risk of contagious diseases, especially susceptible people's health violates a core American value, the right to life without which all other rights are pointless. (Declaration of Independence Paragraph II) This is proof that our founding father's would agree that we need to protect all people from things outside of their control. It is more dangerous than drugs because life-threatening heroin doesn't spread like wildfire, viruses do. Another thing, many people continue to go to work after they get sick and don't stay home and take medicine allowing them to get better here in America. Because of this, no matter what the official rates are for illness, they are going to be too low because Americans are not taught Germ Theory. This makes American statistics for illness the minimum because the actual numbers are much higher. Also, economically, when you are sick if you go to work your efficiency is going to be cut significantly because it is harder to do tasks. /This means that true universal health care is economical stimulation.

This proves that someone's not getting health care harms everyone else's health care, no matter what their income level, race, sex, or social class is, making someone not have access to health care inherently immoral.

2. Why Health Care is a Prerequisite to a Standard of Living.
If you are sickly, your standard of living is going to drop. Economically, you are going to be less productive, even if you are going to work. You will not be able to get things done that have to be done and if your illness is contagious the standard of living of people around you is also going to drop. If you look at the standard of living on the Human Development Index, the lowest countries have sporadic health care services at best, and the countries at the very top of the list all have Universal Health Care. If someone is not sick, and not around people who are sick, than the illness will drop and people will lead better lives.

3. Why Health Care is a Human Right and Every Member of Society Needs to Have Access.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, drafted by Eleanor Roosevelt and others, lists fundamental human rights that are followed by all free nations. It is based on equality and includes parts of life that are not taken away from people in the United States of America, such as freedom of speech, religion, petition, and other rights. However, if you are dead, these rights are not worth anything. You need to be alive to enjoy these good concepts, and if a person doesn't have access to health care they are unable to enjoy every human right. This makes is a foundation for everything we do in life in our world and a prerequisite to everything in society.

4. Why Health Care Can Only be Fully Implemented with Governmental Intervention.
The first thing people learn about corporations in any economics class is what firms exist to do. They exist to make a profit. People go into business to make money and only a few major businessmen continue to care about what happens to others. The owner is in business to make money to live his/her own life. (Mankiw) This makes it so that if it is not profitable to give someone health care a corporation is not going to. This means that if ordinary people do not have health insurance or have their health care paid for by taxes (like Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Japan and Taiwan to an extent) they will not receive health care, making it so that you have a large segment of the population that will not have access, giving a huge pool of people for disease to grow and mutate in, threatening an epidemic.

An option for people to have their health care, the current American  method, is to have health insurance industries offer people insurance. If there are competing companies the prices are going to stay low and the people at the top will make money and everyone will be happy. This should work, but often doesn't. Companies often out compete each other forcing out the competition and then rise their prices giving their owners record profits leaving people who don't qualify for Medicare struggling to make ends meet (dropping standards of living for no moral reason) OR going without health care (which as I proved in point 3 doesn't just affect the people without coverage). Both are unacceptable and not the fault of the people who are now at risk. This is why if we are to do the American option, there will need to be a governmental self-sustaining public health insurance option for people to buy into if they choose to. This will prevent large corporations from taking advantage of innocent people and to not do so goes against the fundamental American principle our Founding Fathers believed in, that all people are created equal and we all have a right to life. This would work.

Another option is universal health care from the government. People pay sales taxes, and then everyone has paid for their use of the public good. It prevents outbreaks in Northern Europe and Canada making their standard of living exceed ours by international standards, and follows the American principle of everyone being equal. Like anything, there is an equilibrium that must be achieved in order for it to work, which is why when I talked to a friend from British Columbia he told me about how there was reform to their system around 2006 that took the existing system and crossed out the problems of long waiting lines that had been an unexpected symptom during PM Trudeau's term. They fixed it and it is now far superior to America's system using cost-benefit analysis.

I am not a Capitalist. I am not a Communist. I am not a Socialist. I am a Utilitarian. I look at the options to find the system that will work the best for the largest amount of people and then support it after analysis.

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