The problem with ‘positive rights’

It is tempting to say that there is a right to health care (or food, shelter, clothing, love, etc.), but the reality is that we merely have rights to try to obtain something without undue interference.  We have the right to seek out a physician’s services, to have that physician treat us to the best of his ability, without the government throwing barriers in the way, or without another person restraining us.  What we do not have is a right to actually succeed.

California illustrates that beautifully.  Now that health care is a ‘right’, there aren’t enough doctors to provide that ‘right’.  Giving people the ‘right’ to access medical care leaves precious few options: (1) make someone else pay the bill, and that bill is whatever the hell the doctor wants to charge, or (2) not pay the physician what the physician would like to be paid.  Note that the former almost always devolves into the latter as the populace gets tired of paying the bills.  When the second option kicks in, doctors leave the profession en masse – they have other things to do with their time that can be equally lucrative or a lot less frustrating.

Where does that leave our patient seeking out the ‘right’ to health care, but with no doctor to provide that right to him?  How much better for a patient to not have the right to a physician – he would have a better chance of obtaining health care.

The same thing is happening with the ‘right’ to the fanciest medical technology (paid for, of course, by the medical device tax):

Minnesota’s medical device makers say a new tax to help pay for the federal health care law could cause cutbacks, and even layoffs. The state is home to more than 700 medical device companies, and between 250,000 to 300,000 workers.

The nine employees left at Signus, a Chanhassen-based spinal implant company, took a 40 percent pay cut, and the owner isn’t getting paid at all. He blames the new medical device tax.

(From the above-cited article.)  So where does that leave people who squeal about how expensive medical devices are?  Without any medical devices, at any price, of course.

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Filed under Economics, ObamaCare

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