Skip to comments.The Case Against Socialized Medicine
Posted on 09/28/2004 1:19:47 PM PDT by johnnyb325
One of the greatest dreams of American liberals is a nationalized health care system similar to the one in Canada. They argue in favor of such a system because they believe health care is a basic "right," and because they believe the current system is flawed beyond repair. As with most problems, they advocate government solutions, not private enterprise solutions. Unfortunately, the government has an abysmal record of correcting problems, and American health care would be no exception.
First, let's examine the "right to health care" claim. Obviously, there is no right to health care established in the U.S. Constitution. However, we do have a moral right to health care, some will argue. Unfortunately, those who make this argument do not understand what a "right" is.
A "right" is the ability and autonomy to perform a sovereign action. In a free society founded on the ideal of liberty, an individual has an absolute ability to perform such an action - so long as it does not infringe upon the rights of another individual. Health care is not speech: In order for you to exercise a theoretical "right" to health care, you must infringe on someone else's rights. If you have a "right" to health care, then it means you must also have the right to coerce doctors into treating you, to coerce drug companies into producing medicine and to coerce other citizens into footing your medical bill. This is Orwellian. "Freedom" for you cannot result in slavery for others. Thus the concept of a "right" to health care is an oxymoron: It involves taking away the rights of other individuals.
Surely, though, we can agree that doctors, the pharmaceutical industry and insurance companies earn excessive profits, you say. Well, that depends on what your definition of "excessive" is. Doctors literally hold the lives of their patients in their hands. How much is someone who saves lives everyday worth? The same is true of pharmaceutical companies. While it has become fashionable to condemn their profits, the fact is that these profits fund medical research, which leads to more medicines being produced, and, consequently, more lives saved. Insurance companies spread the cost of health care among many people who might not otherwise be able to afford it, and thus make health care readily available for many.
While on the topic of profits, we should examine them. The word "profit" is considered to be a dirty word by many on the political left, but why? What makes a profit bad? Nothing. On the contrary, profits are very positive. When you come to class in the morning, there is a good chance you either drive a car or ride a bus. Do you think the bus driver and the workers who built your car or the bus did so that you could get to school on time? Of course not, they did because they wanted to make money. Yet their pursuit of a profit benefited them as well as you.
Adam Smith once said, "It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own self-interest." As we have seen, profits and self-interest are not bad things.
Let's pretend, for a moment, that the left gets its way, and the United States adopts a universal health care system. This profit motive will effectively be removed. Doctors will then be government employees, and, as such, have far less accountability, as well as lower pay. Could we still expect the best and brightest to strive to be doctors? Probably not. More than likely, they will pursue other careers where they can make more money.
Some love to bemoan the fact that the United States is one of the few industrialized nations without a government health care system. Yet they rarely note that the United States produces disproportional amounts of the new, life-saving drugs, largely because of the profits drug companies make. Will we continue to produce these drugs if we abolish the profit motive? Not likely. Chances are, they will not be produced at all, and more people will needlessly suffer and die as a result.
When we examine countries that have embraced socialized medicine, we find long waiting lists, expansive red tape and little concern for the individual. Do you really want to be told which doctor to go to? Do you want to wait years to have necessary medical procedures performed? If so, then socialized medicine is for you.
But if you believe in individual rights, competent healthcare and sound economic policies, we must get the government out of the doctor's office.
- John Brown is a senior in political science. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
The only good thing I can think of about socialized medicine is that no one has to worry about being bankrupted by medical bills. I read somewhere that 1/3 or all bankruptcies in this country are due to this reason. That's pretty persuasive for a lot of folks.
That so cute.... He thinks the government should be limited by the Constitution....
When one is unemployed, getting health care is one of the motivations to look for a job. Free health care would result in more unemployment and people staying on welfare longer, no?
Seatbelt/helmet laws originate from taxpayer liability with medical expenses associated with car/motorcycle crashes.
When taxpayers become liable for all of your medical expenses, all of your behavior, from the smallest to the largest detail will come under their control.
Maybe some people don't mind making a trade like that. But I do, and my freedom isn't theirs to spend. Not for "free" health insurance, not for anything. Case closed.
No, everybody will instead be bankrupted instead by excessive taxes.
No, everybody will instead be bankrupted instead by excessive taxes.
Bankrupt or dead which would you choose? I would choose to live! It might not easy rebuilding your life, but another house ,another car can be bought again. How many spare lives can you buy for yourself?
We can sit for hours and discuss what a right is, and whether people have a right to health care, or whether it's an entitlement. What really matters, though, is the fact that health care is a necessity, like food and water, things that give life. We do have a right to life, right?
Exactly. With socialized medicine we will see the rise of a whole host of atrocities. Not the least of which will be legalized euthanasia.
What good is being financially "solvent," if you have to wait six weeks to see your government-provided healtcare specialist, if medical licenses aren't worth the paper they're printed on, and if no pharmaceuticals exist to help cure your condition?
yes, of course but does that mean I should be able to go down to the local grocery store and get my food for free? how about free water?
Remember:"A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away."
-Medicare for old people
-Medicaid for poor people
-all emergency room care is basically socialized, right? No one's ever "refused", whether or not they can pay or have insurance, right?
-Hospitals and doctors are so heavily regulated with government oversight to an extent that, it could be argued that they basically are a branch of government (you up on your HIPAA rules? if doctors "take Medicare patients" this obligates them to this, that and the other, doesn't it? what prices they may charge, etc?)
-HMOs... they were essentially created by the government were they not?
-And finally the insurance situation is largely government-caused. Why do we all have this funny idea that health insurance must be attached to our employer, in the first place? (You don't expect a "food-purchasing insurance plan" from your employer...) Why does health insurance cover even regular doctor visits as opposed to just catastrophic events (as, you would think, "insurance" exists for)? Because of a post-World War 2 policy of considering these "fringe benefits" as non-taxable income. In effect the government provides a subsidy to all employers to induce them to provide insurance, and then of course that immediately allows for all sorts of laws and regulations about what that insurance must be like. (Must cover birth control pills! etc)
This all may not add up to "Socialism" with a capital S of course but it does function as a kind of farmed-out, piecemeal socialism.
I'm hard pressed to identify very many actual free-market features of health care. I mean you get a job, sign up for HMO, pick your doctor (free market..I guess) from inside the "network" (not so free market), and from that point on all your visits, and what you pay for each cotton swab, are tightly controlled and rationed by actuaries. There's no "shopping around" or "bargain-hunting" here.
Given all this, to just say "we shouldn't move to Socialized medicine" isn't very helpful. A lot of lefties will argue that our system is already halfway there, but is very inefficient as a result - and they will have a point. Instead of hitching all their wagons to a "no" - "no socialism in health care" - I wish conservatives would adopt a more pro-active position, such as "we need to reform the health care system", similar to how they have positioned themselves on Social Security. "Reform" in this case would consist of some much needed free market fresh air, including:
-end to employer-based health insurance tax incentives
-aim in all things to alter the nature and understanding of "insurance" so that it is used only for catastrophic life events, not every single damn checkup, tube of toothpaste, etc.
-less regulation/control and more free market whereever feasible
I don't know. This may not be a political winner. The "Baby Boomers" are going to be an obstacle to any attempt at true free market reform of course, as they grow old and rely more and more on the government to subsidize their health care. But just saying "no socialism!" doesn't seem like much more of a political winner, and its effect is to freeze us at the amount of socialism we have, which, let's face it, is pretty damn much. With the result that as frustration grows with our current system's idiocies, a constituency builds more and more for a true nationalized health care system.
Avoiding this is a good argument for having insurance, insurance which is *true* catastrophic coverage ONLY. The whole point of insurance is to shield you from such an event. But we've got our insurance companies so occupied with paying for each and every doctor visit that I'm not surprised a person could have insurance but have to file for bankruptcy as well.
Well, ERs are "socialized" because they're free, or at least free to privileged classes.
But they have NO government budget or other reliable source of constant income, hence, hospitals can and do go out of business.
under socialism, they can't.
I have family in Europe, I'm well aware of its shortcomings. And they are well aware of the shortcomings of ours.
And here's the lefty's response: "That's so inefficient, and look at the tragedies that result (communities losing hospitals). Why not cushion things with a true, reliable, nationalized system?" Look how you've now portrayed the difference: under our system, hospitals "can go out of business", under socialism, they can't. Which do you think sounds better to the average joe? Who's going to say "yay, I want a system in which my local hospital can go under"?
Lefties are also big on reminding us that ERs are typically the most costly way to treat someone, and there would be an efficiency savings if the people most inclined to use ERs for small things (poor people) were instead included in some kind of umbrella nationalized system that encouraged/allowed them to make less-costly, regular checkup type visits.
And, call me crazy, but I think lefties are *right* about that. At least, I know of no decent counterargument.
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