Being Miss USA is privilege, health care isn’t


Photo Courtesy of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Kara McCullough spurred controversy when she said that she believes healthcare is a privilege, not a human right.

Robin Bridges, Editor in Chief

Oh here we go, another article about Miss USA. I promise this article is not about the black, nuclear chemist, HBCU alumna from Washington, D.C. who was crowned Miss USA on May 14 and what she said about health care being a privilege for people with jobs.

It is, however, about why we got so upset about what she said.

When asked, “Do you think affordable health care for all U.S. citizens is a right or a privilege?” As a contestant Kara McCullough responded, “I’m definitely going to say it’s a privilege.”

“As a government employee, I am granted health care and I see firsthand that for one have health care you need to have jobs,” She continued. So therefore, we need to continue to cultivate this environment that we’re given the opportunity to have health care as well as jobs to all the American citizens worldwide.”

After her crowning and some backlash from the public, she went on to clarify that she meant that she is privileged to have health care because of her job. Not that only people with jobs can have health care.

So, let’s start with the question. If someone has to ask you whether health care should be a right or a privilege in your country, the first thing to realize is that it is currently a privilege. If it were a right then everyone would have it and the question would be moot.

In other words, health care is treated as a privilege in the most powerful country on the planet. Let that sink in. It is not yours by default. No care for your body. No care for your mind. No care for you. Period.

Around the world approximately 58 countries have some form of Universal Health Coverage. Even third world countries with starving children we see in those sad commercials have it in some form. Countries like Rwanda, Tunisia and Botswana have huge government run free health care for their citizens.

And yet, in America we squabble over men having to pay for OB-GYN services or women having to pay for prostate exams.


Medicaid and Medicare, health care for the poor and elderly, is not a right for those who need it most. You must apply and risk being denied for one arbitrary reason or another, if you even have the capacity to apply at all.

A right by definition is: “something that one may claim as properly due,” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary. Meaning it is yours whether you want or need it. Health care does not fall the category of a right for all citizens in America.

This being the case, why were so many people upset when they thought a nuclear chemist was saying only those with jobs can receive care? That is the system we have. A system from which many benefit, including her. This system prioritizes those with jobs – and money – to more comprehensive care over those who have little or no money.

Even those who benefit from Medicaid and Medicare – once they hunt down a doctor who accepts the backlogged, slow paying and generally overwhelmed insurance – tend to receive​ less quality care. While this has improved with Obamacare and it’s access to more insurance options for more Americans, the fact remains that no one is guaranteed health care.

So, why don’t we let the new Miss USA off the hook and move on. Health care will be a right when everyone has it, until then it’s simply a privilege.