Posts Tagged ‘verkschmerk’

Healthcare and Privilege: Some Thoughts

January 26, 2009

For a while, I’ve been thinking about what the state of healthcare in the U.S. means in terms of who is privileged and who is not. I am here on a worker visa, which means I always need to haveĀ  a job. Now, that sucks in some respects, especially for me, because I am somewhat of a slacker. I find not working to be very therapeutic — but then not working is extremely unhealthy, from the point of view of how expensive it is to avail of health care when you don’t have an employer to underwrite a trip to a medical professional.

So being forced to have a job while I’m resident in these United States of America means that I am prevented, by the convenience of the law, from doing harm to myself. I guess I need to be grateful for the way things are, because I as sure as hell wouldn’t make the right decision, from a rational point of view, had I the choice.

Then I began to think about what it means that I can expect to receive this expensive health care, just because I have made a certain choice of profession. As a member of the country’s tech elite, I have a pretty high degree of employment safety (though that degree was sorely tested in recent months as I struggled after being laid off for the second time in a year to find a job.) So what does this mean about who gets to not worry about medical care and who has to — that you don’t deserve proper healthcare unless you participate in the country’s economic life within specific sectors? By this reckoning, an artist is not deserving of healthcare because he’s largely unemployable.

Worse — the quality of health care one receives is more a function of the particular sort of work one does here in the U.S. than in other countries. I can expect better care all around because I work for companies with high market capitalization. But that argument has no moral weight of any sort! Tying healthcare to one’s employment is something that deserves substantial political opposition as the most egregious example of how we are mistakenly conflating our mode of employment with the nature of the rights we can demand as human beings.

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