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Wednesday, November 30, 2005


Health care is not a 'right'

Health care is not a 'right'. The right to free speech, the right to own a gun, the right to a fair trial, the right to due process, these are rights. In contrast, positive rights are a slippery slope into egalitarian utopianism. I can make up the 'right' to almost anything using the same criteria. I have a right to food, a right to an education, a right to a million dollar home, a right to a BMW to get to my liveable wage job, which I also have a right to. Positive rights are rights that indebt others to me. It's a 'right' to the income and labour of others. Where do such rights end? The answer is they don't. They never end because they are based on a fundamental fallacy: "From each according to their ability, to each according to their needs." The definition of having a right to someone's service is simply: involuntary servitude.

The campaign for socialized medicine in the US has long been a goal of several well-meaning politicians. So besides the lack of details, the class warfare rhetoric, and the doublespeak, most promises are merely a step in achieving something they dare not propose openly: the complete government takeover of the healthcare industry. Those who advocate universal healthcare have a disdain for capitalism and market economics and are really just continuing the push toward socialized healthcare that started with the failed policies of the New Deal and the Great Society. Our healthcare system is sick because of 30 years of socialization, not 'market failure'. Not surprisingly many claim the problem is market failure, greed, and the pursuit of profit.

Many states have regulated health insurance so extensively that even basic plans are expensive. In fact, health savings accounts aren't available in Maryland, Hawaii, or New Jersey. Requiring states to deregulate insurance--which Congress could easily do by allowing out-of-state insurance purchases--would mean that all Americans have the opportunity to buy basic plans. Over the years, Medicare's administrators have written, literally, more than 100,000 pages of rules governing clinics, hospitals, and physicians. This mountain of paperwork means that time and energy will have to be expended bureaucratic compliance instead of patient care. Furthermore, Medicare pricing, and insisting that it apply to everyone but managed care, means that competitive pricing doesn't exist for many services. Washington needs to cut the red tape.

If the system as it is now is broke, how do the politicians propose to fix it? The easy answer is to have the government pay for it. This will cost anywhere from $650 billion to a trillion dollars over the first ten years. The odds are it will cost a lot more than that, just like every other government initiative whose initial cost is always underestimated and downplayed. No mention of the mountains of paperwork and regulation that come from existing government meddling in healthcare. No mention of the already existing and massive subsidies that have driven up the cost of healthcare. No mention of the expensive litigation trial lawyers that have put doctors out of business and raise the cost of health care for all of us.

Exactly how does shifting the payment from the customer to government lower costs? Politicians are engaging in pure sophistry; by shifting the cost from individual to taxpayer, the politicians will be raising the cost for all of us, increasing administrative costs, bureaucracy, waste, fraud, inefficiency, and abuse, all the things he says he wants to eliminate from private sector health care but which exist in spades in government by its very nature.
The main problem with a single payer system is that it short circuits market forces, which like gravity, continue to operate nonetheless. Many seem to believe that competition and the profit motive are what drive up the cost of healthcare. Any reform that does not address this central problem is doomed to failure. The further removed the patient is from actually paying for medical services the more expensive or more degenerate the care will get. Overall, I happen to think it's a good thing if I'm paying my doctor directly.

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system. Health insurance is a major aspect to many.
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