Free health care as a human right is prominent in discussions leading up to the 2020 election. Our Constitution guarantees the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The government cannot kill you or lock you up without due process. So far as possible, the government is to leave you alone to live your life the way you want to. These are rights describing what the government must not do to you.

Health care as a human right describes what the government must do for you. The immediate question is how do we pay for that and who will pay for that? What responsibility do we have to earn that right? Is there a right to free health care for lung cancer if I smoke three packs a day? Large parts of health care expenses are for illnesses arising from bad personal lifestyle choices.

The challenge is how to protect people from catastrophic expenses from illness without breaking the bank. Plans such as Medicare For All are estimated to cost $33 trillion in the first 10 years. That would more than double our national debt, which is already more than $65,000 for every person living in the U.S. and is growing nearly $3,000 per year per person. Like what happened to Social Security and Medicare, free health care for everybody would likely exceed initial cost estimates. Each person has a unique set of health care needs. A one-size-fits all plan won’t work. Individual choice among many possible coverage plans is the most successful option.

DANIEL PETERSON

Janesville

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