President Obama Declares Health Insurance is ‘A Right’

During his weekly address from August 17, President Obama declared that health insurance isn’t just a privilege–it’s a right.

The address, titled “Working to Implement the Affordable Care Act,” featured all the President’s well-worn claims about Obamacare that we are used to hearing.

Obama touted the fact that people under 26 can stay on their parent’s insurance, he talked of the “free mammograms,” and celebrated the access to “contraceptive care.” And then, in full demagogic mode, Obama went on to excoriate Republicans for trying to hurt “sick people” and the economy by opposing his Obamacare law.

Warming to his theme, Obama then said, “A lot of Republicans seem to believe that if they can gum up the works and make this law fail, they’ll somehow be sticking it to me. But they’d just be sticking it to you.”

While this is all typical Obama boilerplate, light on facts and heavy on sunny promises and hectoring rhetoric, one point he made was rather fantastic. He declared health insurance to be a right.

Obama wrapped up his weekend address making just that proclamation.

So I’m going to keep doing everything in my power to make sure this law works as it’s supposed to. Because in the United States of America, health insurance isn’t a privilege–it is your right. And we’re going to keep it that way.

This edges into the territory of Franklin Roosevelt’s 1944 attempt to float a “second bill of rights.”

In his campaign to implement a second bill of rights, Roosevelt tried to create all sorts of new rights out of whole cloth. Among other things, the 32nd President tried to make “adequate food” a right, owning a home a right, having a job a right, and he also tried to make a right of “adequate medical care.”

Few in 1944 embraced FDR’s second bill of rights because it clearly would have upended the American way of life as created by our Founders and codified in the U.S. Constitution.

Instead of relying on the American tradition of leaving each person free to affect his own life, FDR’s new bill of rights would have required people to do things for other people and this is a clear violation of freedom of choice.

Requiring health care professionals to care for people, for instance, necessarily violates these professionals’ freedom to lead their own lives as they see fit.

But the American left has been looking to put government controlled healthcare into place since Roosevelt’s days and Obama’s proclamation that health insurance is a “right” finds direct lineage in FDR’s second bill of rights.

This “right” of health care is, of course, no more in keeping with American principles now than it was in 1944.

Finally, we need to ask one last, important question. We know that Obamacare outlines what it will and won’t cover, what it will and won’t pay for and contains “death panels” to the extent where the plan will deny coverage of one thing or another to “keep costs down.” But if health care is a “right” how does Obamacare deny any health care? You can’t deny a right, so how can he call health care a right on one hand and deny access to just anything we want on the other?

Sure he specified “insurance” in his weekly address, but what is the difference? Insurance is just a way to cover and pay for health care and is itself health care by extension.

So, where is the logic here?

(A version of this piece first appeared at

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