When the Health Care bill was passed in 2010, it was hailed as a historic “victory” and a big move towards “social justice”. The less naïve among us, however, would call it an instance of Government tyranny, and a takeover of the Insurance system. It would only shift the costs to premium players, increase litigation, spending and debt and the cost of equipment and insurance. The ‘right’ to health care means high taxes, which would only discourage productivity and hamper production of wealth. As Cannon and Tanner observed, “The paradox of a ‘‘right to health care’’ is that it discourages the very activities that help deliver on that ‘‘right”. Health care is a good, and as there are no positive rights, it can’t be a ‘right’.
Though much criticized by interventionists and libertarians alike (for different reasons, of course), the United States has the best health care system in the world. Many of the best minds in the profession work in the United States. In the past decade, an overwhelming majority of the Nobel Prize Winners in Medicine were either Americans or residents of the United States. Half of the medicines introduced in the past two decades were developed in the United States. Yet, critics point out the high infant mortality rate in the United States, for instance, evading the fact that US consider low-birth weight infants as a “live birth”, when other countries don’t.
Is health care a right? A right shouldn’t infringe upon the rights of others. Ayn Rand wrote in ‘The Virtue of Selfishness”, “Medicare is an example of an out of context goal. “Isn’t it desirable that the aged should have medical care in times of illness?” its advocates clamor. Considered out of context, the answer would be: Yes, it is desirable. Who would have a reason to say no? And it is at this point that the mental processes of a collectivized brain are cut off; the rest is fog. Only the desire remains in his sight—it’s the good, isn’t it? There would be no controversy about the moral character of some young hoodlum who declared: “Isn’t it desirable to have a yacht, to live in a penthouse and to drink champagne?”—and stubbornly refused to consider the fact that he had robbed a bank and killed two guards to achieve that “desirable” goal. There is no moral difference between these two examples.”
People unable to think beyond the obvious fail to see the high costs of Government interference in health care. They instinctively grasp that these costs would be shifted to the ultra rich that pays the taxes. They hope that they can have a free ride somehow. This is an illusion. A large part of the tax burden is on the middle class and the poor. The Canadian Government, for example, extorts a huge amount in taxes to maintain its government-run health care system. In short, it is not “free”. As Paul Ginsburg and Len Nichols writes, ‘‘When someone else pays patients have little price sensitivity and almost no incentive to economize and make sure the expenditure is commensurate with the clinical value of the service.’’ Milton Friedman once estimated that decades of government encouragement of excessive health coverage has doubled the per capita spending on medical care.
The health care system, as everyone states, is in need of reform. As some critics allege, the problems we face is not a free market in health care. There was never a free market in health care. There are several regulations and redistribution schemes which tamper with the functioning of the health care system. Government licensing and FDA regulations have made health care extremely costly and out of reach of the “common man”. The solution, obviously, is to do away with these regulations and institute a free market in health care.