Promote the General Welfare to Ourselves and Our Posterity: The Founding Documents of the United States and the Nation's Health Care Debate
Bengtsson, Bengt-Ola S
Medicine, health care, and philosophy 2011 Aug; 14(3): 249-55
A recent online discussion asked whether healthcare for Americans is a constitutional right or a privilege. One can debate whether one can extract a legal right to healthcare from the Declaration of Independence depending on whether one sees it is a philosophical or as a legal document. The Constitution of the United States of America lists "promote the general welfare" and protect "ourselves and our posterity" as some of its aims. Perhaps this would demand the inclusion of certain basic health services such as immunizations and antimicrobial therapy for every citizen; even for illegal immigrants, in order to protect the public. America must decide whether health care is a privilege or a right! If it is a privilege, one must accept the exclusion of some individuals and the unintended consequences of epidemics. If it is a constitutional right, one must accept paying for that right with increased taxes and the unintended consequences on the economy. But who should pay, how much and for what?
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