Is Health Care a Commodity or a Right?

The Unique Status of Health Care

  • Unlike market commodities, you can choose to buy a suit or not buy a suit without affecting other members of the society however, some health problems are contagious and one person getting sick will get others sick.
  • If one case of Small Pox exists somewhere, you can’t afford to ignore it and make it an individual responsibility because it is a highly contagious disease and it took a worldwide effort by the WHO to eradicate it.
  • Small Pox is not the only contagious disease there is. It was highly contagious with high fatality rate and it was eradicated. There are however other contagious diseases that haven’t been eradicated.
  • For a society to keep an infectious disease at bay, a threshold level of herd immunity must be established through measures like sanitation, vaccination, water sterilization, etc.….
  • As the term herd immunity suggests, it entails the presence of as large a proportion of the population as possible that is immune to a particular disease to prevent it from reaching epidemic levels.
  • That is not achievable at the individual level and it takes a large-scale coordinated effort fit only for a government budget to reach a safe level of herd immunity to prevent high incidence rate or worse epidemics.
  • It is now appropriate to address a going misconception about vaccines. While there is no vaccine that has no side effects, the benefit of vaccines in making epidemics a thing of the past can’t be overstressed. People by now have forgotten the horror of epidemics and it is easy under the luxury of herd immunity to forget one of the major factors that brought it about.
  • We hear here and there someone claiming that they didn’t vaccinate their kid and that the kid didn’t get the disease. That is only achievable as long as there is a large portion of the population vaccinated. If a proportion of the population large enough to drop below the safe level of herd immunity chose to refuse the vaccines, those unvaccinated will have a very high probability of getting the disease and likely at an epidemic level.
  • How about prenatal, natal and postnatal care? Do you really want to leave that up to the individuals? Can you afford the population shrinkage that will result from a high infant mortality rate?
  • You might be able to see now that the government might choose to provide for these services out of desire to preserve the population.
  • How about children and adolescents? Should the government provide health care for children who are not insured through their parents?
  • The case for them is similar to the case perinatal care, the government needs to step in and ensure health care for them out of desire to preserve the population and to ensure the health of future generations.
  • How about adults who can’t afford healthcare? Should they be left on their own? Aren’t they part of the population and the work force that the government needs to maintain?
  • Now, you must be able to see that the government must have a role in healthcare. The questions how much of a role?
  • How much of a role is the really hard question. There are two major forces controlling how much involvement the government can have. One of them is the obvious need for the government to have a role in health care and the other is the limited resources. From that it follows that there should be a reward system for saving and leading a healthy life style.

A Reward System, That is What it Takes:

  • We need to design a reward system for health care to keep the population healthy while rewarding personal responsibility and cutting costs.
  • It sounds fair, doesn’t it?



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