This is a continuation of the previous post, in which I respond to some issues raised in the comments.
Should access to health care be a market commodity based on ability to pay or a common good that should be guaranteed for all, like fire protection, police, national defense, roads, parks, snow plows, courts, etc?
I have a few comments about this question.
First, the services that are paid for communally, through government, are done so because the individual cannot provide for it himself, or they are services that benefit the entire community as a whole uniformly. I don’t think the same can be said about healthcare. It is a service that the individual can provide for himself, if he chooses to do so. The vast majority of people have healthcare. The number of people who do not is too small, in my mind, to alone justify switching to a government-funded system.
If we look at systems that are government-run, like police departments and schools, they are also government-controlled and the employees are employees of the government. Unless you are proposing to do the same thing with healthcare, then we are really comparing apples to oranges.
There are a lot more complexities in simply using a government funding mechanism to cover the cost of a private healthcare system. For one, the government does not always pay as much as it actually costs to provide the service. One example: most dentists have to limit the number of Medicaid and Dr. Dinosaur (VT’s kiddie Medicaid) patients they accept because the government does not pay enough to cover the cost of the procedure. I do not mean that they fail to turn a profit, but they actually take a loss on Medicaid patients.
Speaking of police and schools, those are things that are provided for by the government, but it is only a base level. If one is unhappy about the level of security or the quality of the schools, one can hire a private security service or send their kids to a private school. Would we do the same for healthcare? If we did, then aren’t we back to a point where we are looking at healthcare as a market commodity, where those who can afford more have more? If we didn’t, doesn’t the government system seem to do more harm than good in the arena of liberty if it denies people the right to seek private care above what is provided by the government? That just seems so anti-American to me. And no offense to Canada, but it seems completely uncivilized to deny people the right to go outside the government system.
If the problem is that people who have more money have better access and better care, then how far should the government go to abolish that inequity? Rich people will have more and better quality of everything than people with less money.
Is healthcare the only “right” that the government should equalize? What about food? That is certainly a more immediate need than healthcare, perhaps even more important. How come rich people get more and better quality food than poor people? When do you think the last time Rich Tarrant (or Bernie Sanders for that matter) ate boxed macaroni and cheese for dinner or even worse, felt hungry because they did not have enough food? Should food be communally funded? If not, why not?
What about housing? The rich always have better access to nicer houses than poor people. I live in an apartment complex with no private yard space. Trust me, it sucks. Should the government supply houses to everyone?
At what point do we decide that a need becomes a right?
The things that I mentioned above, food and housing, are both provided by the government to poor people only. Why should healthcare be government system for everyone instead of being provided by the government only to the poor?
At this point, I think the market is a better provider of healthcare than the government. There are certainly things that can be done to make it a better system, but exchanging it for a socialist system that is shown to be full of its own problems is not the answer. Socialized medicine in other countries is also facing cost and access issues. Why not apply some of the known fixes to the problems with out current system instead of just trading it in for a new set of problems?
(Filed under: Political Thought)