Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why education and not health care?

The other day, my mom and I were discussing the subject of universal health care in the United States. If you've read other posts on my blog, you know that I fully support guaranteed health care for all Americans. In my opinion, I can't be a proud diabetic without supporting every diabetic's right to quality health care.

Just the other day, I blogged about the horrific choice facing many diabetics who have been laid off or otherwise impacted by the recession: Pay the rent or pay for medication. Forcing good, hard-working people into making life-threatening decisions like that is just not right.

I support a system that would guarantee basic health care for all Americans, but continue to allow people to pay for upgraded health insurance if they wish. I see it as similar to public education. The United States guarantees every one of us access to a government-funded education, but if you don't like the public schools you are welcome to pay for your child to attend a private school. Likewise, every American ought to be guaranteed the care and medications they require to maintain good health — but if you want to be able to, say, choose a doctor that's not in the network or get coverage for non-necessary procedures, you could pay for your own health insurance.

So why are we guaranteed an education yet allowed to suffer and die if we can't afford health care? Personally, I don't think this was our government's intent at all. When education was declared a human right in 1948, health care was much more affordable than it is today. I think that if those responsible for writing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights knew what would become of the health care industry in the next 60 years, they would have made access to health care a basic human right, too.

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