This is the first of a series of posts. I split it up so that none of them would be too large.
The past couple years have seen a huge increase in the impact of laws and governments into health care. This has gotten me thinking about a lot of issues with our health care system (both related and unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic). As such, I want to discuss several topics, all related to our health care system, and point out places where they can (and should) be improved.
As always, since this is focused primarily on the political aspects of the system, my thoughts are driven by the three most important points of my political philosophy:
- ALL men are granted rights
- ALL men are equal
- The purpose of the government is to secure those rights
I have discussed those multiple times in previous posts, so I won’t expand on them here. However, these are the Truths (intentionally capitalized) that I base all of my thoughts on.
And so, with that in mind, let’s start with the first of several topics. There is no importance to the order (i.e. I’m not ordering them in terms of importance). I’ll actually cover them simply in the order I jotted them down as I was listing the topics I wanted to cover. The first topic in my list is prescription drugs.
Like many people, I have a health condition that is easily treated by a prescription drug. It’s likely that I will require that medication the rest of my life. My doctor gives me a year prescription at a time, probably the most that any doctor would give me. But what if I did not choose to go see my doctor this year? How would I get the medication that I need? What if one year I simply did not have the money for my annual checkup? What if I ended up in a financial situation this year where I could either go to my checkup OR I could put food on the table?
It is a sad fact of life that there are many people who are in that exact situation. And, in many cases, they choose to put food on the table. So, they do not get their prescription, and they cannot get medicine.
The fact of the matter is, it is MY health. It is MY body. The extent of my rights is right up to the point where my actions interfere with YOUR rights. I am a strong advocate of legalizing ALL of the illegal drugs (and I’ve spoken of this extensively in previous posts). I will never use them, but they absolutely should not be illegal.
By the same principle, I should be able to go down to the pharmacy to get almost any drug I want. I will explain the ‘almost’ caveat shortly.
Now, there are a few restrictions. A pharmacist should definitely be able to warn me about various possible side effects of the drug, and strongly encourage me to only take the drug under medical supervision. I may even need to sign a waiver saying that I am aware of the risks and am willing to take full responsibility for my action. Also, I do not believe that an insurance company should be required to pay any portion of a drug’s cost where no prescription was available. But, within those limitations, a person should have the freedom to self-diagnose, self-prescribe, and self treat to whatever extent they feel a need to do so. It’s not wise… but neither is it wise to smoke, drink alcohol to excess, or many other legal actions. These things aren’t legal because they’re a good choice… they’re legal because as a general rule, making them illegal would infringe on a person’s right to pursue happiness in whatever form they desired.
I will make one exception to this rule. As I have said, if my action has no direct impact on anyone else, then it should be legal. It should be my choice whether or not I choose to engage in that action. If my action DOES have a direct impact on others, then it may be subject to limitations in order to secure the rights of others.
There is one class of drugs where my use DOES have a direct impact on you. The use of antibiotics needs to be regulated because the overuse of those drugs has led to antibiotic resistant germs. Those new and improved germs can then infect other people who then could not be effectively treated by the current set of antibiotics. As a result, there is a very clear impact of my use of those antibiotics on those around me.
It is possible that there are other classes of drugs which would also require regulation for similar reasons, and in that, I would defer to doctors and pharmacists who could reasonably identify those drugs. However, those drugs should be the exception. The vast majority of drugs should not fall into that category.
I hope that it is clear that I am not opposed to doctors. I’m not even opposed to prescriptions. I would always favor making medical decisions, especially those that would involve taking any kind of drug or receiving some potentially risky medical treatment, based on the advice and guidance of someone who had years of training in that area. But ultimately, we need to understand that when it comes down to the actual decision, it is MY choice whether or not I will use a drug (or get a surgery or undergo some treatment). It is NOT the doctor’s choice. A prescription should be taken as a recommendation of a medical professional for me to take a drug, but with, or without that recommendation, it is MY choice to take the drug.