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Is Insurance a Right or a Privilege?

Health care is one of the most important parts of the U.S. social system (Kovner & Knickman, 2008). Yet, many perceive the system as vague and not accessible to the poor. With millions of U.S. citizens uninsured, health care cost escalating, access to health care difficult, and health disparities eminent in this country, health care has become a political issue (Sanders, June 8, 2009). Roger Vinson, a U.S. District judge, recently ruled out the Affordable Care Act stating that its mandate of making all U.S. citizens obtain health insurance is unconstitutional in that insurance is a privilege, not a right.

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Alex Quitiquit in his response article, “Health care: a right, not a privilege,” published in The Daily Utah Chronicle on February 8, 2011, disagrees with Roger Vinson’s judgment on the basis that affordable and proper health care is a constitutional right and this would only be achieved through making insurance a right. This paper, therefore, draws its discussion from the views of Quitiquit. Just like Quitiquit (2011), I believe health care is a right, not a privilege. U.S. citizens can only have equal access to appropriate health care if insurance is made a right where all citizens must obtain medical cover.

Let us be realistic. Our health care system today is far much worse than it was 20 years ago. Whereas some citizens receive excellent health care, others do not (Kovner & Knickman, 2008). Millions of U.S. citizens are either uninsured or under-insured (Sanders, June 8, 2009). Millions of citizens have no access to a medical home; deaths from preventable diseases are on the rise because health care has become inaccessible (Kovner & Knickman, 2008).

Should we still pretend that our health care is doing fine? No. As politicians continue with the debate on the Affordable Care Act, we should ask ourselves this question, “should health insurance be a right or a privilege?” I believe every U.S. citizen should be entitled to the right to medical cover. Unless insurance becomes a right and every citizen obtains adequate medical cover, millions of U.S. citizens will continue dying out of preventable diseases (Sanders, June 8, 2009).

With many U.S. citizens uninsured, the government continues to spend more on health care than most countries whose life expectancy is much higher than the U.S. (Kovner & Knickman, 2008; Kronenfeld, 2002). Despite the good quality of health care, costs are very high making health care unaffordable to the poor. The government should indeed look for means to make health care affordable and accessible to all. Nevertheless, how can we achieve this? The majority of U.S. citizens do not have medical coverage for many reasons; some complain about the cost of sustaining a medical cover (Kovner & Knickman, 2008).

The government should work towards making health insurance affordable. Affordable Care Act would have been the most appropriate health reform to ensure that U.S. citizens purchase an insurance (Kovner & Knickman, 2008; Kronenfeld, J. 2002).

However, unless the medical cover is made affordable, it would be difficult for the poor to obtain any adequate medical cover. It should be the duty of the government to regulate health insurance and ensure that private insurance companies do not exploit citizens (Kovner & Knickman, 2008). As Quitiquit (2011) and Sanders (2009) maintain, health should be a right, not a privilege. Besides, one may obtain insurance, but still lack access to health care given the existing disparities. The government should not only think about affordable health but also make sure that health care services are readily available to its citizens. Health care is a right, not a privilege

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Kovner, A. R., & Knickman, J. R. (Eds.) (2008). Health care delivery in the United States, 5th Edition. New York, NY: Springer Publishing.

Kronenfeld, J. (2002). Health care policy: issues and trends, volume 759. Westport, CT: PraegerPublishers.

Quitiquit, A. (2011). Health care: a right, not a privilege. The Daily Utah Chronicle. Web.

Sanders, B. (2009). Health care is a right, not a privilege. The Huffington Post. Web.

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