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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Braden: Healthcare is a Right, Not a Privilege


According to our current president, “No one knew healthcare could be so complicated.” He’s partially correct.

Health insurance and the way Americans, or anyone around the globe for that matter, pay for and utilize health benefits is multifaceted and requires more than just a bullet-pointed outline to fully grasp.

It is so complicated, in fact, that even after the institution of the Affordable Care Act, a platform that allowed even low-income households to get coverage, about 28 million Americans still remain uninsured. This number was a significant decrease from the more than 44 million without coverage in 2014, but there is still much work to be done.

Politics aside, the majority of people seem to agree medical coverage is vital for well-being and overall quality of life.

Most disparity in thought concerns the appropriate form this coverage should come in. Some believe healthcare should be an inherent human right, while others disagree, with the exception of emergency visits for life, limb and eyesight.

This parting of ideology has created a debate in our country unlike any other, both by the level of contention it has caused and in magnitude of importance.

Debate is healthy in that it helps illuminate opposing positions and arguments that are posed to support them. Exceptions arise when “alternative facts” purport to oppose those provable, empirical truths, but the rhetoric surrounding the healthcare debate suggests a different problem entirely.

Members of the Republican party and even some Democratic lawmakers hold tightly to the notion that health insurance is a commodity and that its status as such would markedly benefit from the outright removal of government influence. The idea behind this is that the healthcare system is broken and can’t operate adequately until it becomes a product of the free market.

Currently, the United States has the largest percentage of privatized insurance companies and private policyholders per capita of any industrialized nation. This percentage amounts to a little over half of the total coverage nationwide.

Despite privatized insurance having the majority of the market, costs haven’t leveled out, as many insurance users know. The U.S. still has some of the highest medical costs in the world. Some are so outlandish, that making a trip to India for certain surgeries is more economical and that includes roundtrip airfare.

Just like clean water and personal freedoms fall into the category of fundamental human rights, healthcare should be considered as such.

The common misconception about universal health insurance is that as a country we can’t possibly afford it. With one of the highest per capita incomes of any country, including those that have seen success with a universal system, it’s puzzling that we aren’t following suit.

There are other less admirable arguments, like the one that suggests paying for another person’s health bill via taxation is on par with robbery. Or that single-payer healthcare is “socialism,” which has been branded a dirty word, and its positive aspects are frequently discarded as being a sneaky form of communism.

A productive discussion on the best route forward is then lost at the starting line. The issue here isn’t necessarily a disagreement on policy or a misunderstanding of the other party’s position, but a complete rejection of opposing moral standards.

While I wouldn’t invoke a deity’s approval for the proliferation of a universal health system, it does seem inhuman to not provide for every man, woman and child who does not have the means to do it themselves, especially if we can afford it.

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