Should society be burdened with the expenses of those who are less healthy, either by lifestyle, or by uncontrollable health problems?By
cover icon for HealthcareAttribution: Midjourney


According to new research, healthcare was the most crucial voter issue in the 2020 presidential election. This topic is essential for many American voters and has a tremendous consequence on the country. The controversy comes down to whether or not the whole of society should have to account for the expense of healthcare. Republicans believe in an individualistic approach, where healthcare pay stays private, while many democrats believe in creating universal healthcare as a human right. Below we have outlined the most common arguments from both political parties.


Republicans believe that there should not be a single-payer healthcare system; instead, healthcare should be the responsibility of the private sector or the individual. This belief is consistent with the economic beliefs of the Republican party, which hold that individual responsibility and minimal government intervention are conducive to a prosperous society. Republicans claim that a universal right to healthcare could increase the wait time for medical services and reduce their overall quality. In support of this claim, they cite the GAO report in which a tenth of Medicaid recipients did not find proper care because of the long waiting periods. Republicans believe that government intervention in the health sector could also lead to higher taxes and would thus slow economic growth. Republicans also believe that individuals should not be responsible for the lack of financial resources of another or the lifestyle choices/circumstances that potentially crippled their health. This view connects to the free-rider tax debate.

Republicans also point out that as a society, it is generally essential to have some of our best and brightest workings as doctors. However, universal healthcare would likely lower the salary of doctors, as seen in countries that have already adopted it. If that happens, the quality of care will fall, becoming a less lucrative career choice for qualified individuals.


Democrats believe that healthcare is a human right rather than a privilege that takes an individual's financial prosperity as a prerequisite. A tenet that aligns with the notion that social policy should be crafted based on what would best serve the common good and that there is a moral obligation to provide for the less fortunate. Democrats also believe that instituting a single-payer healthcare system would lower healthcare costs in the United States. To show this, Democrats cite a report by the University of Massachusetts, which found that healthcare's total cost would be reduced by 1.8 trillion dollars over the next ten years if there was a government-run healthcare system. This result is due to the inherently reduced costs of the public sector since they do not need to operate for profit. Democrats also hold that a publicly run healthcare program would save more lives. They frequently cite a study by Harvard researchers, which finds that the risk of death for the uninsured is around 40%. Another study found that a lack of insurance is responsible for tens of thousands of lives per year.

Discussion Questions

  • Is healthcare a human right or a commodity?
    • What constitutes either?
  • What does the right to life outlined by the constitution mean?
  • Should the government provide healthcare?
    • Poor lifestyle choices cause many health conditions. Should the whole of society be financially responsible for those choices?
    • If so, what should it include? (pre-existing conditions or even elective surgery)
    • If instituted, should there be anything that disqualifies someone from receiving government healthcare?


Andrew P. Wilper, Steffie Woolhandler, Karen E. Lasser, and Danny McCormick, et al., “Health Insurance and Mortality in US Adults,” American Journal of Public Health, Dec. 2009

Procon. “Right to Health Care”, 2014.

United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), “Medicaid: States Made Multiple Program Changes, and Beneficiaries Generally Reported Access Comparable to Private Insurance,”, Nov. 2012

J. Michael McWilliams, Alan M. Zaslavsky, Ellen Meara and John Z. Ayanian, “Health Insurance Coverage and Mortality among the Near-Elderly,” Health Affairs, July 2004

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