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Universal coverage a fundamental right
Is being able to see a doctor when you are sick part of the social contract in America or not?
This is the central question we must answer in the debate over healthcare reform. The professional ethics of doctors imply that healthcare for all is both a shared social responsibility and a human right.
The Hippocratic Oath compels doctors to provide emergency treatment to preserve life, even in the cases of the most poor.
Indeed, fulfillment of this humanitarian oath is one of the roots of the current healthcare problem.
Because of high insurance costs, more and more people are choosing to drop their insurance and take their chances. While the individual may be lucky when it comes to their health, the group cannot escape the law of averages.
The unlucky end up in the emergency room. Aside from the physical pain and discomfort they endure, their emergency treatments are more expensive, more invasive, and result in poorer outcomes and greater amounts of work missed.
Furthermore, these “charity” cases in the end are not free — they have a cost that insurance holders pay through higher premiums.
Currently, the healthcare system is spiraling out of control. The cost of premiums goes up, more people drop coverage, more uninsured visit the emergency room, and the cycle repeats.
I believe the only way to stop this cycle is to enact two fundamental reforms.
First, we must take profiteering out of the health insurance business. One way to do this is to set up a government-run insurance plan to provide at-cost insurance coverage.
Second, we must require all Americans to purchase health insurance. The government requires motorists to insure their vehicles — should it not also require people to carry coverage for their health?
The social contract in America ought to include the right to see a doctor, whether you are rich or poor.
Health insurance costs will come down if we both provide reasonable insurance options and require people to carry coverage.
Universal healthcare is a human right, but it will only become a reality in this country if we all support it financially.
JAYSON B. OSBORNE