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Free Healthcare: Fundamental Right Or Privilege?

By Dr. Nikita Toshi +2 more



One cannot apply the definition of fundamental to anything given by one to another, such as education, Free Healthcare or food. If it  isn’t innate, it isn’t a “fundamental right.” Technically, however, health care is a human right as defined by the U.N.’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The problem, as with most government documents is interpretation.Free access to healthcare  is  a fundamental human right. Access to free healthcare is not. What that means is no one should be denied access to healthcare services based on gender/race  as long as  they pay for the services. However, as a morally  responsible society, we decide to provide basic minimum services to everyone who needs them, so that they don’t struggle to merely survive.   The primary examples are food, shelter and clothing. However, at the same time, to provide services to these citizens, someone has to produce  these services. So to provide food to the people, someone has to cultivate grains; to provide housing, someone has to build the houses. Thus, we’ve another concept at loggerheads: the cost of producing  these services. As a society, the aim  should  be to  ensure everyone has a basic minimum of services while compensating everyone for the services they provide accordingly.Today people have also started organizing yoga or meditation camps for the less privileged society of us so that they can become able to fight problems like depression and anxiety.Mental health illness is very common in India and this issue can be greatly resolved by taking just a step forward to help the less privileged.

The Problem of Supply

In essence, the cost of providing healthcare services is higher due to the sophistication required. We need doctors to provide healthcare services who need to go through rigorous training for years to achieve skills to perform surgeries and examine patients, making them in higher demand in a competitive marketplace, increasing their costs. So while as a moral society we need to ensure no one is denied the basic needs due to lack of money including healthcare, we also need to ensure no one is forced to provide services (by law) for a lesser amount than their skills would allow according to the competitive free-market.  

Can healthcare be universal with fairness to providers?

It’s a tricky economic question but the best way to do it is not by meddling with providers of services but rather reducing the layers of middlemen involved who increase the cost of service. Industries whose services provided are based around monetary risks such as insurance in healthcare or finance in education. By which one doesn’t mean to monitor the profits of these middlemen sectors but rather have alternate state-sponsored institutions where there aren’t any middlemen between the consumer and the producer. Compensating providers is just a part of the net price, there are many other administrative costs as well. However, the caveat should be the word basic  necessities and defining what classifies as basic healthcare. Just like subsidized food wouldn’t entitle the receiver to world-class biryani and caviar, subsidized healthcare wouldn’t mean world-class healthcare and free  cure of cancer. The higher the speciality, the higher the cost of hiring the doctor which comes from the taxpayer’s pocket.  


Even though free healthcare is not a fundamental right, as a morally responsible society we must take minimal responsibility to provide basic healthcare facilities to ensure no one has to face ordeal due to uncomplicated illnesses (which can be treated by a general physician) at subsidized/ free costs, while ensuring no provider is forced to deliver services at lesser than their skills mandate.Read More:  Effects of Climate on Depression by Dr. Sheetal BidkarDisclaimer:  The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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