Eyes of a Friend

Life with companion animals

Do Other People Deserve Healthcare?

on August 19, 2009

I’ve always thought that everybody deserved medical care. Kids develop a sense of fair-play at an early age, and I’ve always based a lot of my values on what’s fair for everybody. Medical care can often mean the difference between life and death, so that placed it very high on the list of “must-haves” for people.

When I first started working full-time, I remember meeting a nurse and finding that she did NOT have sick leave. I found the irony of a healthcare worker not being provided paid time off for illness/injury to be both bizarre and unsettling — I was learning that the world was not fair. I knew that already, of course, but I just kept finding new ways that lack of fairness would surprise me.

Lots of people would tell me that I’m wrong to even want fair-play for everyone because people should only get what they DESERVE and many people don’t deserve medical care because they haven’t worked hard enough for it. Others would explain that medical care costs money and has to be paid for by someone and if it is provided to people who don’t have the money to pay for  it, then the money has to come from other people — and it would be UNFAIR to make someone pay for something that is given to someone else. Well, that does sound unfair, doesn’t it — to make someone pay for something they don’t want to pay for because they’re not going to get any benefit from it?

The first time I ever heard about people being mad about paying for someone else’s medical bills, I was surprised and kind of embarrassed that I would make someone mad. I never like to make people mad — it always upset me as a kid to do something that would make my mom or dad mad, and I tried hard to keep it from happening. So I pulled back for a moment (or longer); but then I thought How could anyone NOT want to help someone who needs medical care? Why would anyone NOT want to help someone who needs medical care?

Isn’t it simply a human instinct (not only human, but we’re dealing with humans right now) to help someone in need? If someone has their arms loaded with packages when they walk up to a door, don’t people open the door for them? When a person slips and falls, don’t people help them up? When a kid is crying because they are lost, doesn’t everyone try to help them find their mommy and daddy? Isn’t that the FIRST reaction to a person in need – what can I do to help?

I still believe that most people feel the instinctive desire to help anyone in trouble, but many folks have learned that they need to think about the consequences FIRST, instead of simply reacting with assistance. I’ve learned to do this also. I receive the mailings from the March of Dimes, the Disabled American Vets, the animal rescue groups, the foundations that raise money to fight cancer, heart disease, drug abuse… the list of people who need MY help can get very long, and doesn’t even include the people waiting in the ER because they don’t have health insurance and don’t have a doctor of their own.

Most people have someone they are responsible for – most people are parents and spouses and have promised to care for their kids and spouse “in sickness and in health”. They come first, and it’s only fair to decide to help others only when it doesn’t take away from your own family. So charity comes after paying for the family necessities – rent/mortgage, food, clothes, medical, utilities, ummm, well, gotta add the cell phone, the cable TV, the internet connection  – at home and on each of the cellphones, and food has to include eating out and clothes has to include the right names on the label, and food has to include fine wine, organic veggies, prime meats, and … there’s not really anything left overr for taxes (grrr!) let alone charity.

Okay, maybe we can cut the list of “necessities” down a bit, and then just deal with whether we need/want to pay for someone else’s visit to the doctor/hospital.

Does it make a difference WHO needs medical care? A smoker needs medical care after a heart attack (caused in part by smoking?); an obese woman needs care due to diabetes (caused in part by her diet?). There could be a long list of types of problems that might be brought on or exacerbated by a human’s bad habit – too little or too much exercise, overuse of drugs (prescription or not), failure to go to the doctor when they first felt ill, not holding down a job to earn health insurance, etc. …

Does certain behavior mean you no longer (or never did) deserve medical care?

What is the real question we should MUST ask?

Does this person deserve to suffer or die?

Do you deserve to suffer or die?

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