Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Healthcare Rights... or wrong?

I had an interesting conversation with a patient yesterday. He was talking about one of his favorite family practice docs. He'd built up a large practice in a pretty smalls town over the years. As he approached retirement, he decided he wanted to sell the practice. He interviewed a lot of young doctors, but wasn't able to find anyone he was willing to trust the practice to. It seemed all these young docs aren't willing to live the kind of lifestyle rural family practice docs have for years. They only wanted to work 4-5 days a week. They wanted to be able to take vacations... The patient went on to tell me that he hoped I wasn't like one of those. That I was willing to sacrifice for the good of the community.
Contrast that with a post I just read here. It tells the story of a pediatrician who's decided that medicine really isn't her #1 priority. She has a new baby. She feels like she's missing out on so much by working 65 hours a week in her current practice.
What other field is there where we expect that somone should be required to sacrifice in order to better serve us? Do I ever think, "that's just not right for Taco Bell to close @ 1:30... what if I'm hungry at 2? They are just being selfish... not willing to sacrifice for the good of the community."
I think that what it comes down to is that people are seeing healthcare as their right. They deserve it, and anyone, be it a Dr. or an insurance plan, who tries to tell them they don't have that right is just being greedy, or selfish, or not willing to sacrifice like they should.
I don't understand this line of thought. How can we possibly have that right? To say that I have a real right to healthcare is saying that I have a right to force someone else to work for me... that's slavery, or at least indentured servitude. If I have a right to take from someone their life, liberty, or property (three very real inalienable rights) if they infringe on my rights. If someone takes from me either my life, liberty, or property, they will be punished by law - and deprived of either thier life(death penalty), liberty(prison), or property(fines). Now, if I have a right, a real right, to healthcare, I am claiming that anyone who impinges on that right should be punished (taking away life, liberty, or property). Is that really what people think? Should a Dr. really be punished for not providing healthcare to a patient? If he provides poor care, causes harm, etc... for sure he should be punished. But simply refusing to treat someone? Deciding to work 40 hours a week? 20 hours?
I don't think people are following their reasoning through all the way. They are seeing something they want, that's important to them, that they may not be able to live without... and thinking they must have a right to it.
Any thoughts? Where does a right to healthcare come from?
Just for the record, I feel physicians should sacrifice for their patients. I plan on working long hours and holidays. But that doesn't mean I think the patients have a right to it. I'll do it out of charity, not obligation.

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