If They Die, They Die: The Ethics of American Health Care

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Do you want to hear a joke?

…A healthy American.

It would appear that the health of American citizens is a joke to many people in power, and the so-easily coerced masses.  If you’re like me, you have an appetite for the ironic.  The American government has actually convinced about half of its citizens that being healthy is not a fundamental right.  These people have been led to believe that it is treason to support paying taxes towards a collective pool of funds allocated to ensuring that every American citizen can have a right that many other world superpowers have: Health.  In direct result, the United States has a higher infant mortality rate than almost any other civilized country, and about 45,000 people die every year because they are unable to pay for health care.

Health can be a broad term.  To an American, health is a privilege that is given to the ‘hard workers.’ Health is a commodity and for some reason, there just isn’t enough to go around.  This post seeks to explore the American health care system and understand whether or not health is a fundamental right for a citizen.

Many of my readers are not America.  If you are one that is not American, you are probably shaking your head right now and your inner monologue is saying something like this: “These Americans are bloody crazy.”  Please forgive my bad accent.  Another bit of Irony would be the statement that many Americans that hold the opposite viewpoint of mine would say the same thing about you.

The United States has a very unique system for health care.  In America, independently owned and operated businesses are in control of the health insurance system.  Until President Obama introduced the Affordable Health Care Act, or “Obamacare,” health insurance companies were completely unregulated by American government.  This resulted in prices for insurance that were so high, that almost one in every seven Americans was uninsured and could be charged hundreds of thousands of dollars to be treated for any ailment.  These insurance companies could even chose to not insure a person for any reason.  Pregnancy was considered a pre-existing condition.  Ask a single mother about how hard it was to get insurance for her and her child.

It is an interesting thought that health may not be considered a fundamental right in America.  The country was founded on the idea of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, but it seems as though the term ‘life’ does not include ‘the preservation of…’

I hold that it can never be ethical to deny the care of a person in need of health care.  The rights of an American do undoubtedly include the right to be healthy in the pursuits of life, liberty, and happiness.  It is the ethical responsibility of any member of the health care system to complete the actions in which they have been trained.  An insurance company or Doctor denying care to a person in need that cannot pay is like a fire fighter choosing to not respond to a call because it’s too far of a drive.

I do believe that health is a self-evident right, but some may not believe so.  Consider the reality of our situation on Earth.  We are the apex species, and yet, thoroughly insignificant by galactic standards.  Our closest possible living, celestial-neighbor is yet undiscovered, but more than a lifetime away from us by current propulsion standards.  All we have is each other.  Sure, there are those that seek unabridged wealth and power and mean to keep it all for their own pleasure. But that is not how our species should strive to be.  It is nothing less than necessary to ensure the best for every member of the species.

The implications of these changes to our health care system are such that there must be a change to a system in which a collective pool of tax dollars are saved for the health emergencies of the citizens.  As I have noted in previous posts, Americas are very individualistic.  The standard retort to a health care system change is: “I don’t want to be forced to pay for someone else’s health care.”  There are two parts to that statement:

The first is they do not want to pay for someone else’s health care.  This is an argument used commonly by people that are fortunate enough to have adequate health insurance.  These people do not understand that they too may not always have the adequate health insurance that they embrace with locked-fists.

The second is that they do not want to be forced to do something.  Again, Americans are very individualistic.  Generally, the idea that Americans do not have the right to choose what they want to do with their money and bodies scares them.  However, the same people that don’t want to be forced to pay for other people’s health care also believe that gays should be forced to stay unmarried and a woman that have been raped must be forced to have the child.

Obviously, that argument is not well thought out and should be considered no more.

America is a great place to live, but the country is losing its status as a superpower.  Our citizens are poor, stupid, and unhealthy.  I have shown that the American idea of health care is broken and that it is the ethical duty of all Americans to embrace a system in which all people have access to health care.

If America is to last into the future, as the mindless ethnocentric citizens wish, an even more drastic change to the way Americans are healed needs to occur. A change that is not only to a broken system, but one that shakes the deepest convictions of the American public.

Twitter: @dustin_mcmahon

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19 thoughts on “If They Die, They Die: The Ethics of American Health Care

  1. I too wonder why “people” are against universal health care. We have universal education paid for by tax money. We have social security which is a type of social insurance.

    Reply
    • Yes, it just seems odd. We enjoy services like public schooling, libraries, police and fire departments, hospitals, etc., but we don’t want health care?

      Thank you for the comment.

      Reply
  2. From a Canadian perspective, the US insistence on rejecting universal healthcare seems perverse and backward. It seems to be more about the power of the health insurance lobby than about the right to health…which is a real pity.
    Karen

    Reply
  3. The argument that I think is especially powerful is that you are paying for other people’s health care, when that person arrives at the ER. We should get everyone on a system that prevents such an enormous cost. Insurance for all is a good way to go.

    I do think you have oversimplified things. If you have time, I’ll post this link:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/magazine/the-extraordinary-science-of-junk-food.html?_r=1&

    There is an industry devoted to killing us slowly for profits. The scientific method going in a truly horrifying direction, much like Fritz Haber and his chemical weapons. Unless you cling to a notion of absolute free will, ignoring the genetic realities of our existence, you might concede that this behavior is predatory and shameful, and that we the people ought to do something about it. Bear with me.

    Many people believe in the power of individual choice. They believe it is a choice, rather than a dirty trick played on our genetically predisposed desires. Maybe I had a choice and I chose “better,” I’d rather not be arrogant and instead say that that system made my body feel so horrible that I went back and found healthier alternatives that have existed for…well, ever. Personally, I think a lot should be done to promote better nutrition in America. I have no love for the insurance companies, but seriously, can you really blame high prices exclusively on them? I think personal responsibility and helping others go hand in hand. Personal responsibility, in my view, is helping others who can’t help themselves. Doesn’t need to be government, though. It could be you and me. Maybe I join you in wishful thinking, maybe not.

    When people say they don’t want to pay for someone else’s heart attack, there is something to be learned and understood from that, in my opinion. I am the kind of person who wants to solve the underlying issues at hand. I do sympathize with people that don’t want to participate in such a system, one side that profits on killing people and the other on saving their lives. Insanity! We’ve known markets need government involvement to operate correctly, Smith said it forever ago. So yes, I think the government should be involved in regulating the system. If the market, and the system, however, is fundamentally broken, as you say yourself, I don’t really see the difference.

    Healthcare lies in any one of a million decisions we make in our lives. I think more time should be devoted toward those decisions, and I think universal healthcare (which I do desire, don’t get me wrong), should proceed with a much more critical and far-reaching overhaul. I also think we should be personally involved on the human level, unless you think government can truly reach people on such a fundamentally personal level as what we eat in our homes ( a point worth discussing?)

    I’d like to amend your last sentence to say that the way Americans live must undergo a drastic change. I also wouldn’t dehumanize the other side for not believing exactly as you do. “Mindless ethnocentric citizens?” America is paying for peace, you know. And those other, “enlightened” industrial countries get quite a deal out of it. Protected sea lanes and greater stability in global prices. You seem dismayed at the loss of “superpower” status. I question whether that status is even American to begin with. What about your own convictions? I generally agree with you, but just because we both call ourselves Atheists and agree on certain points doesn’t mean we shouldn’t examine our own ideas. I hope my response was as thought provoking as your post was for me.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the comment, ericcarr. I have not prepared a response yet because of an unbelieveably busy weekend but if you will allow me the time, I’ll have a response some time around Monday evening.

      Reply
    • I really enjoyed your statements. I do not have much of a retort to your points, for I believe we both make good observations.

      However, I should address my statement about the “Mindless ethnocentric citizens.” I stand by the statement, I have no reason to beleive that the masses have any individual brain, they are all part of a growing hive mind. Whether that is the way of the future or not, I am not sure, but I do not feel that I am dehumanizing them, only making observations on their beliefs and actions.

      Thank you, I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

      Reply
      • The response to yet another of my long posts is appreciated. Your statement surprised me, I think because my writing is very involved in this idea of the hive mind and the assertion of the individual against it. Still, should we treat them simply as part of the whole and potentially drive them deeper into it, or try to engage them on the footing of individuals? The illusion of self determination is a powerful one. Are you different from them? Their inability to pay for someone’s care who they’ve never seen before might make them more human than us, even, depending on how you view genetics and the evolution of the species. I’d like to think our civilization can evolve, but an organism that can quickly heal wounds won’t survive if it also has a predisposition to slicing itself open constantly. Mindless or no, it’s going to take a lot more than policy to change the realities of American life in my opinion.

  4. I am American, and I am very much in favor of universal health care. By the same token I wouldn’t call what we term “health” care, actual health care. It’s more like supporting the disease system while the medical industry, in example, big pharma, profits from those who suffer.
    Most hospitals and medical facilities are surrounded by fast food restaurants like MacDonalds. The hospital employees guard the entrance puffing on their cigarettes. I was at the hospital cafeteria having to eat there one day. Healthy food was almost impossible, at least what I call healthy – very few vegan or vegetarian options, and certainly not organic. I live in a country that basically supports GMO foods. And, what we feed our children in schools…. There is so much more I could say, but I had better stop here. We are just lazy and illogical as far as our health is concerned. I think I’m in the backwards universe sometimes. My husband and I are fortunate to have good health insurance should we need it. I really don’t think anyone should have to worry about paying needed medical bills.

    Reply
  5. I am from Bangladesh. We do have subsidized health facility, but then level of service and attention given to individual patient is inadequate. The prevention of disease is not really working, as over all hygienic conditions are not attained yet ! so maintenance would be the next step.Come to supply of medicines and accountability of medical practitioner, that is always absent. So, lets say here..we are lucky to be healthy and any problem with health means a disaster..seldom anyone gets satisfied with the service, but there is not much choice..come to tax payer money and individualistic society.. tax is collected but where it goes no one knows..and society is still much into family system ..so its not yet defragmented..reading an article about health issue in your American context..doesn’t appear to be funny..just wishful ..that atleast your government ensures and ask/tells citizen about collecting and spending tax money…we just talk about some other country financing /granting a loan for us.

    Reply
  6. I must say, I really enjoyed reading this post! Very well written and you present your argument beautifully! As a non-American it is hard to put myself in the mind-state of an American, whenever I hear about this on the news all I think is “Don’t they understand…?”, but your post made me understand the ‘general’ way of thinking out there. Thanks!

    Thanks for liking my post, btw!

    Reply
    • Thank you very much. Unfortunately, I am talking to the brick wall that is the American mindset. I am glad I could frame my views in a way that affected you.

      Also, best of luck with your blog.

      Reply
  7. Jesus being a liberal and all believed in healthcare for all. Funny how all of our Republican presidents preach Jesus but do not follow his common sense lifestyle. Isn’t preserving the life of a countries people something that should be a given? In my opinion our own healthcare system is against us. We are a consumer. But what happens when the consumers have no more money to give? The poor are becoming more poor and the rich are staying rich, but the wealthy only make up very little of the economy.

    Reply
  8. From a UK perspective even our lovely NHS is not safe from privatisation. In Wales, where I live, we are facing massive health cuts in order to solve a deficit that big business has created, i.e. corporations not paying their fair share of tax. You might have heard about Starbucks paying little to no tax in the UK. Why should the citizens of the UK pay, quite literally with our minds and body, for a short-fall that could be solved with stricter tax laws?
    The NHS was borne out of a post-WW2 need for societal restructure and safe access to health care for everyone. It is being systematically destroyed by a government intent on going down the privatisation route. Universal health should be an imperative for every government. We work hard, pay our taxes and obey the law; it is a fundamental human right for everyone.

    Reply

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