One of more heated topics being debated throughout American politics is the concept of a universal health care plan. Though numerous members of Congress claim to base their views from an economic standpoint, the overall impact of health coverage on a society is an ethical one. Whether a citizen can afford to survive day-to-day in the country they call home is not a debate of tax increases, private insurance companies’ profits, or prescription costs. It is a debate that can inevitably be traced back to this question: when is human life valued more than money?
Typically speaking, conservatives tend to lean towards a health care plan that decreases coverage and alienates the population of America suffering from poverty. Liberals tend to develop plans that do the opposite, however, this comes with a price: cutting off private insurance companies and tax increases for the wealthy. And in a country where wealth is, more often than not associated with power, hits close to home for many politicians.
Bernie Sanders, a well-known liberal senator, recently unveiled his very own health care proposal. His bill aims to expand Medicare and create a health care system that provides free or substantially cheaper medical services for all citizens. He also notes that while it would be necessary to implement a tax increase on the general population, it would be more than offset by the amount saved by cutting out the middlemen – private insurance deductibles and co-pays. Overall, Sen. Sander’s proposition would grant affordable health care to all Americans; regardless of income.
So why oppose the bill? Well, for us to see the opposition, we must first consider the audience. Sander’s health care plan would call for a hefty tax increase on the wealthy to support the budget for the bill. It would also include controversial coverage, such as abortion, gender-reassignment surgery, etc. which have been openly and intensely fought against by conservatives. Yet even without these aspects of the bill, the audience is still unhappy.
To understand why, we need to look at healthcare through a business lens. For example, a main reason health care is so costly is the price of prescription drugs. Companies that develop and sell these drugs to pharmacies and hospitals refuse to decrease the prices in fear of simultaneously decreasing profit margins. And thus, the moral dilemma continues: when does a consumer’s right in obtaining a drug they need to survive become more important than the amount of money they have in their bank account. Health care is a human right, not a privilege. Simply because of opportunity and success, one human being should not have the right to indirectly kill another who wasn’t as fortunate. By claiming that only those successful or well-off deserve the chance to survive is absurd. Children living in impoverished areas that do not have access to education statistically will not become as wealthy as those who do. Is their life valued less than another simply because of the environment they were born in?
It is astoundingly ignorant to me that choosing between opening another McDonald’s or inadvertently saving the lives of countless men, women and children is a topic that needs to be debated in the first place. A dollar bill will never raise a child, go to school, write a novel, paint their home, drive a car, marry someone they love, or even smile. Human life is capable of infinite things $1,000 never will be, and to ignore this fact is to neglect the value of life itself.
When we are born, we are guaranteed the right to survival and, in my eyes, denying someone access to a doctor is just as damnable as murdering them in cold blood. In the end, too many businesses and politicians are more worried about losing money than losing lives. And without a universal, affordable health care plan, we are only left to wonder: what will be the price tag on my life?