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Is Health Care a Product, a Privilege, or a Basic Human Right?

By Robert Fischer, HCAO-Bandon 1/7/2013

Health care is a product when it is commodified and sold by profit-seeking corporations. It is the product of a financial industry that makes billions of dollars year after year selling people the promise of access to doctors’ services and hospitals.

Health care is a privilege when it is granted by insurance companies to people who are in good health and earning a good salary. It’s a privilege that insurance companies can revoke when people need it most.

Health care is a human right when people say it is, and have the courage and determination required to make it so. These people do:

The World Medical Association was founded in 1947 by physicians from 27 different countries to ensure the independence of physicians, and to work for the highest possible standards of ethical behavior and care by physicians. It is an independent confederation of free professional associations, which now numbers 100 National Medical Associations. “The right to health was first articulated in the WHO Constitution (1946) which states that : ‘the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being...’". (read more):

Physicians for a National Health Program is an advocacy organization of more than 18,000 American physicians, medical students, and health professionals who are in support of single-payer national health insurance. Here is an excellent essay by Ronald Pies, M.D. 

Health Care for All-Oregon resolutely declares “Healthcare is a Human Right!” ‘There should be no barriers to healthcare for anyone. Other nations enjoy this right. We all deserve the same. Health Care for ALL Oregon is working to make this happen. We seek to create a health care system based on the principles of Universality, Equity, Accountability, Transparency, Participation, and the Public Good.(read more:) 


Bob Fischer is a sociology professor who is retired from California State University, where he taught classes in Peace and Conflict Studies, Social Movements, and Social Change. He and his wife Carol live in Bandon, and both are active members of the Bandon chapter of HCAO.