The Rt Rev. Pierre Whalon, Bishop of the Convocation of Episcopal Churches in Europe, has written an essay in the Huffington Post, wading into the debate surrounding the provision of health care in this country.
Whalon argues that while we might extrapolate from our Declaration of Independence an inalienable right to health care, as essential to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness, funding that right demands that we commit to these goals for everyone – and that each individual takes responsibility for staying as healthy as possible.
To return to the Declaration of Independence, its idea of human rights depends upon the Creator: we are equal in the sight of a loving god, who desires us to “have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Besides food, drink, clothes and shelter, good health is necessary to enjoy these, which are a function of one’s work. Since medical care is necessary to maintain good health, it follows that each of us must have access to it. That is, health care is a right.
…Therefore the question is how to fund this right.
It’s banal. We all know it. The United States has a poor health care system, compared to dozens of other countries, by all statistical accounts. It begins with infant mortality rates, and it ends with decreasing life expectancies for certain categories of citizens. The huge growth of publicly-traded health care companies has twisted the reason why medical care exists. Those companies are naturally more focused on shareholder value than their clients’ health.
This is the single greatest reason, out of a myriad of complexities, for the fact that Americans spend the highest percentage of national wealth on health care but have worse health overall than literally dozens of other nations. …
Yes, access to health care is a basic human right. And since that is so, like all the other rights we have, enforcing this right is the business of all. We are individually responsible for keeping as healthy as possible. We are as a nation responsible for making basic health care available to all.
Read much more of Whalon’s argument from economics and ethics here.