Dalrymple: There Is No ‘Right’ to Health Care – WSJ.com

Dalrymple: There Is No ‘Right’ to Health Care – WSJ.com

If there is a right to health care, someone has the duty to provide it. Inevitably, that “someone” is the government. Concrete benefits in pursuance of abstract rights, however, can be provided by the government only by constant coercion.

You don’t say.


  1. Odd. I have a right to free speech, yet I must pay my own bills for ISP, blogging, telephone, etc. If I want to publish a paper, I must pay for printing presses, paper, ink, etc. In Europe there is a right to work, yet unemployment is reaching 25% among young adults.

    In other contexts a “right” means that the government will not interfere with you participating and paying your own way. The right to free speech means that if I have the money, I can publish a paper. The right to a job means that if I meet the qualifications, I will be allowed to take the job. There is no duty to provide it.

    So why does a right to health care mean anything more than the right to buy whatever health care I want? (This would mean some changes to the FDA, prescription, licensing, and drug laws. I doubt that this is what the activists who champion health care as a right really mean.)

  2. Pattie, RN says:

    ..and how did the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness transform into “rights” of free health care, freedom from ever being offended, and freedom from anyone ever disagreeing with you or disapproving of your life “choices”?

    When did America morph from a nation of freedom and initiative to a nursery for adult children with needs that “everyone else” has to cater to?? Most folks would rather get on the government gravy train than make their own fortune….pass me the remote, the chips, and my disability check for being obese and depressed…

  3. While I don’t think we have a “right” to health care, it’s not because someone else has to provide it. When arrested we have a right to legal representation, which someone else has to provide (paid for by us or, if we’re too poor, by the government). As children we have a right to a free public education, which the government pays for.

    I don’t know what the solution is to making affordable health care available to more people, but claiming it’s some sort of “right” won’t do it.

  4. Physicians have been toeing the line in their advocacy efforts and implying that we do have a “right” to healthcare, if we give them what they want – more reimbursements, tort reform, etc. You have to figure that if the public does give physicians what they want the public will feel pretty darn entitled to the things you’ve been promising will happen in exchange – more specialists in rural areas, more physicians in general, more trauma centers, more OBs, etc.

    You can’t create the expectation and then complain when people believe you.

  5. Outside overt advocacy groups, show me where rank and file docs have said there’s a right to healthcare.

    I’m betting you can’t so now you’ll try to change the subject.

  6. TheNewGuy says:

    I’ve never seen ANY physician offer that trade, Matt… where do you get this stuff?

  7. I never said you came out and clearly stated there’s a right to healthcare, I said you implied it and were dancing along the line of the concept.

    Guys, almost every one of you have used the “access to healthcare” argument whenever you’re advocating for anything. For example, you say “If physicians don’t get (pick your reform) then there won’t be (pick your type of physician or medical service) when you need it.” Or another example: “You can sue doctors or have doctors, your choice.”

    The converse of that is that if you GET that reform, people can count on the fact that they’ll have more access. Now, you smartly never actually PROMISE how much more access they’ll get, but the implication is clear.

    You cannot be surprised that when you get the change you’re seeking, then people believe they’re going to get what you at least implied they would. And what you’ve hinted at is that they’ll have those physicians which you claim are running away until they get the reform.

    Are you disagreeing that “rank and file” (I guess you use that phrase to differentiate you from your lobbyists, a distinction the public doesn’t make) doctors have not danced on that line?

  8. GruntDoc says:

    And, tries to change the subject. Right on time!

    Geez, just say you got it wrong. Docs can advocate for access to health care without ever implying a right.

  9. I’m wondering if you read my first post – it doesn’t appear you did. I simply fleshed it out further in my second. There is literally no change in the point of the post.

    As to your statement that doctors CAN advocate for access without implying a right, I never said otherwise. The examples I mention above, though, do imply that the public will get something in exchange for giving you what you ask for.

    If you feel I’ve avoided a subject in the past, feel free to point it out and I’ll be glad to share my thoughts. It wasn’t intentional avoidance.

  10. I don’t think you can look at any “right” to healthcare in some sort of vacuum. I suppose an extreme right would be the right to a heart transplant.

    People already seem to have the right to health care, since so many seek it without any means of paying for it. And they have the right to not follow the various instructions that might keep them healthier and live longer. They also have the right to have no intention of paying their healthcare bills.

    Even if someone has some right to health care it doesn’t mean they have a right to demand that I provide it, if I see it as a waste of my time and health care resources, since they only want addictive drugs or have no intention of taking care of themselves.

    Along with any right comes responsibilities.