Health Care is a Right

The Claim

Can we consider health care a right in which all persons have a claim? Surely, if life is considered the most basic right offered to any given person, then health care can also be a right. Without maintenance, how can one begin to attempt to keep their car running for years and years? One could not. Without such care, the body will surely dissolve into a diseased and broken nature.

One manner in which any body may be thought of, is that it is an organic machine. It takes certain fuel to power this machine. It takes maintenance to keep the machine going. This machine sometimes even requires new parts. This is what I have come to call a biological outlook of the human body. Others may also be called a functionalist approach.

Preventative care is one method of maintenance that can be employed to stop a shutdown of the human body. Screenings and check-ups are two examples of this, however they may not always be enough. Exercise programs, and programs that promote and help initiate a general healthy lifestyle would also have a preventative function. In some cases, prevention may involve more invasive treatments, such as surgeries. People may lead a healthy life style, but due to some genetic mutation, require surgery to replace (or remove) a piece of their body. If one has a family history of cancer, but leads a healthy lifestyle, they may still need invasive treatments, such as the removal of certain organs.



This view has drawbacks, undoubtedly, as all views do. Primarily, and somewhat disturbingly, it discounts the personal experiences, feelings and emotions of the person, while highlighting the mechanical functions of the body. Sometimes this is called a functionalist approach, since proprietors are interested in how the body works, or should work. However, just because one primarily looks at a body objectively does not mean they necessarily negate the personal experiences of the body. This also does not mean we have to discount emotions and dispositions, which can have an effect on how the body operates. Such things are still rooted in material causes, though sometimes they are less obvious and more obscure. Chemical imbalances may account for changes in mood, for example.

Another worry this view presents is the language in which is described in. It seems to be discussed in dualistic terms, that is people talk about it as the person and body are two separate entities. This view was invented by Rene Descartes, and is sometimes referred to as Cartesian Dualism. Christianity supports a version of dualism. Some Christians believe in non-material souls that inhabit our material bodies. One does not have to convert to dualism if they are to support my view. One may simply have to rearrange their thoughts. Personal experiences and memories, for example, are stored as electrons (or some other particle, or set of particles) in the brain. Chemical changes, as I mentioned above, are in charge of mood.


In the End

If we are to consider life as the primary right, which all others flow from, then we ought to consider health care a right. If we approach health from a functionalist perspective, then we are perfectly positioned to understand why we need to consider health care a right. The human body can be understood as an organic machine that is supposed to function a certain way. If we know the manner in which a body is supposed to function, then we will know (or be able to decipher) how to care for that body. The treatments, tests, screenings and other procedures and activities that prolong, maintain and promote the health of a living body may then be considered vital to its existence, and therefore life.


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