Do people have a right to health care?

I think the following segment by Radiolab would provide some challenging additional considerations for your discussion:

It doesn't so much come down on one side or the other, but it points out that we're entering a weird period in history with medical research. Some diseases require so much research or have such small affected populations that new drugs for treatment can cost any amount of money. There is basically no upper limit.

That has weird implications for rights to treatment. Imagine a treatment that cost all of GDP. Clearly we wouldn't divert all available resources to treating one individual, because others would not be treated, others would die. We might want to divert a smaller, more reasonable amount of money though. We might want to pay a few thousands per person per cure. If you agree with both those extremes though, you've begun haggling over price, you're saying there's some line. You're admitting that each individual doesn't have an inviolable right to treatment, but there are cost considerations that matter.

There's this problem in philosophy from Judith Jarvis Thompson called the "organ donor problem," a variation of the trolley problem. Imagine a surgeon with five patients, each of whom is very ill, due to a different sick organ. A healthy young man walks through the village with a matching blood type to all the sick patients. Can the surgeon kill the one to save five?

It's part of a difficult series of thought experiments on utilitarianism and the wrongfulness / permissibility of certain actions. Highly recommend reading through a few on the wikipedia page, your intuitions shift as you read more variations.

We often face a disguised trolley problem in state policy. Suppose we can spend a million dollars to cure someone of a certain rare disease. However, the department of transportation reports that for a mere $200,000, it can improve signage and merging areas to prevent a death a year. Is the million dollar cure coming at the cost of five other lives each year?

On the other hand, some diseases are rare and treatments underexplored because they affect a minority group in the population. If there was a historically marginalized group that is dying out to a unique disease, can a society which historically restricted equal access to jobs and education for members of this group deny them care because of cost?

If you think "no" at a 5:1 ratio, what if that ratio changes? We're back to haggling over price.

Note: I don't really even know what I'm driving at here, so if your takeaway is that I'm rooting for one side or the other, at least one of us misread my post.

/r/NeutralPolitics Thread