Reginald Williams makes the case that the American view of healthcare as a privilege rather than a right is fallacious. He provides examples of the police and the fire department, which also deal with threats to human health that can often spread yet are funded by taxes and provided free of charge. Despite their similarity to healthcare, the two are considered basic civil rights and treated differently. Williams calls for the provision of universal healthcare and a reorientation of the social view on it despite the high costs that doing so might incur.
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A counterargument to Williams’s claim may lie in the roots of each of the systems in question. Firefighters and police officers began as voluntary positions, with many firefighters in the United States still serving voluntarily. People chose to protect their communities despite generally working in other positions, and the two systems arose organically. On the other hand, medicine requires extensive learning and competence and is rarely, if ever, provided without compensation. Whether it is state-funded or private, its fundamental nature does not change, but the public option introduces bureaucratic inefficiencies with little benefit to patients.
Williams’s counterclaim would likely point out that many medical workers entered the field out of a genuine desire to help people. He would also presumably point out that in his envisioned world, society would think about the dangers of disease in the same way as crime and fire. However, this change would require a fundamental shift in the thinking of millions of people, which may not be achievable. Without it, the universal healthcare proposal appears to introduce all of the problems of public healthcare with few to none of the advantages.