How Healthcare Became A Status Symbol

You can do most things right in your life and still end up in need of a social safety net.

insured uninsuredYou can go to school, work hard, marry the right person (or for some this also means of the right gender) and still, bad things can happen to good people, hard-working people, people who are wealthy, honest, and do all the things we’re told will lead to a long and successful life. Mention anything a person can or should do in life with the goal of keeping you safe from some perceived threat and you will be wrong if you think it will be work out 100% of the time.? There is nothing you can do to absolutely insulate yourself and nowhere is that truer in America than when it comes to healthcare.? Oh sure, statistically certain groups fare better than others, not smoking will reduce your chances of developing lung cancer, just like staying active should help you maintain a healthy heart and lead to a longer life.

There are trickier statistics behind the mere “shoulds” and we would do well to heed them. Socioeconomic status, for example, is one of the most accurate predictors for health and longevity.? It would seem self-evident that the higher you score in terms of wealth, the better your access is?to?preventative and palliative health care and this would equate to better health. It can be argued that better health care for everyone will have a positive impact on a country’s economic engine, to the benefit and prosperity of all. But that’s not how the opponents of the Affordable Care Act “ACA” see things. Opponents see healthcare as a right, but not in the way those who support ACA see it.

The opponents see healthcare as a right arising out of their ?privilege” and that privilege is earned by their lifestyle and cultural choices. Listen to them carefully when they speak about how they believe in hard work (the implication here is, those who believe healthcare is a human right don’t believe in working hard), when the opponents speak about making good choices (they infer that “other people” make bad choices and most of the time they mean poor cultural choices).? When anti-ACA folks speak of cutting entitlement programs, they aren’t thinking about their ?own? entitlement programs.? They are speaking of those “other” entitlements, the ones that help the proverbial 47%, the moochers, the shifters, the people who didn’t work hard, or didn’t make good choices.

Giving healthcare to everyone, including the “others,” is essentially taking something the opponents have always viewed as their privilege, one they earned because they are smarter, worked harder, and made better choices. For the opponents, when healthcare is treated as a basic human right, you take away the social equivalent of the keys to the executive washroom. By doing so, you reduce their former privilege and measure of status to something, basic– as in, not special, not exceptional, so basic, that everyone has it.

So, the high-pitched screeching you hear is not, as they would have you believe, their steadfast belief in fiscal responsibility and smaller government. We can know this because if they were truly serious about fiscal responsibility, the first thing they would place on the budgetary chopping block would be the billions spent in corporate welfare and subsidies — equal to about double the amount spent on the social safety net programs combined. No, this is a primal scream that says:

Not EVERYONE can have a Gucci bag! I earned my Gucci bag!

Who knew? The ultimate ?it bag? in America was having comprehensive health insurance and we just didn’t figure it out because those policies didn’t come adorned with bling or a designer label (that we saw).

This debate, as are most of the debates being pushed by the far right, is not really about?what the opponents say it’s about.?It would be a mistake to only argue solely to the points the opponents say are their critical concerns, because there’s way more below the water line they aren’t acknowledging. This debate is really about a changing culture in America (or the changing demographics). This change is one that’s making people who used to feel privileged and exceptional and smart and savvy to start to feel like they’re part of a herd and they now find themselves part of a herd of people they no longer feel connected to.

Edited/Published by: SB

I had a successful career actively working with at-risk youth, people struggling with poverty and unemployment, and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. In 2011, I made the decision to pursue my dreams and become a full-time writer. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.