What Rand Paul Was Trying to Say

When Rand Paul said that health care is not a right, and that saying it is a right means that doctors should be enslaved, he had a point. It was a point he expressed poorly, and a point an elected official should not have even tried to make, but it was a good point.

The point is that “health care is a right” is a questionable principle, especially as rhetoric on health care policy. It’s questionable because no marketable good or service belongs to consumers by right. Rather, they generally have to pay for it.

Free speech is a right. It’s not marketable. You don’t have to pay to speak. Television ad time is not a right. If you want it, you have to buy it. Similarly, since a doctor’s service is something one pays for (either the patient pays or someone else pays on the patient’s behalf), it is not something one has a right to.

For those smart enough to say, “Look, we know you just can’t demand the doctor’s service, but everyone should be given a way to obtain health care.” That’s better, but this definition of “right to health care” doesn’t tell us anything about what our governments must do to facilitate the transaction.


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