“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under the robber barons than under the omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber barons cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satisfied; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C.S. Lewis
On September 14th, 2017 Dr. G. Timothy Johnson, the former chief medical correspondent for ABC news, presented an argument for a single-payer health care system in the United States by focusing on three main points: cost, quality, and access. Johnson’s arguments fail because they are unable to recognize certain economic and political realities. The focus of this article, however, will be on the faulty position that universal healthcare is a right akin to the right of speech. The entire essay can be found here.
Why do some choose not to buy into a health insurance plan? Most individuals that choose to forgo health insurance are the young-adults that are entering and exiting college. This group of people, overwhelmingly, feel as if they do not need it. Most young adults are in this boat, deciding to risk hospital bills for more cash on hand to perhaps pay off student loans, or to buy groceries. In the aggregate, this is a wise bet. Most 20 year olds don’t require a physician. In the rare cases that young adults need a physician for a serious issue, there are countless ways—through charity, crowdfunding, and religious organizations—to address costs. It is also important to realize that theft, the forceful taking of another property, is an unjust action. Therefore, it becomes clear that forcing people to pay for another’s insurance is not just immoral, but is wholeheartedly unnecessary. Why steal from Peter to pay Paul when private entities, such as churches and non-profits can—and already do—provide services and monetary support for those in need? This was the way things were before the Roosevelt’s New Deal. Churches and charities used to be the primary provider of “public welfare.” The difference, however, was that the individuals these altruistic entities assisted were not given a blank check. Many times work would be exchanged and a solid work ethic would then be established. No one expected anything and therefore utilized resources to the best of their abilities. That is no longer the case with present-day public welfare. According to the Washington Times, under the previous administration “federal welfare spending has grown by 32 percent.” These numbers only increase over time. A private system of welfare is far more moral, ethical, and cost-effective and moral than forcibly taking from the working people, and giving it to those that have/can not. This is not meant to be callous—as so many claim the position to be—because history shows that private entities can more than assist those in need. People like giving to causes and groups that help others, yet for one reason or another, the narrative is that no one would give. This activity can be practiced to prove this false narrative wrong. Ask any group of people “would you give to charities that help the disenfranchised, sick, and homeless if there was no government program to do so?” The answers you will receive will be a resounding yes.
“Morally, should health care be considered a right or a privilege?” This is a pervasive question around the world. The short answer to it is no; it is not a right. The average individual agrees that cars should not be a right, but why not? Many people need transportation to work in certain jobs, should that cost not be a right of every American? No one is entitled to the service or labor of another. A human can not, and should not, force another person to get up, go to the institution they belong to, work for 12 hours a day, and then demand that that person pay for the service that was just provided. The simple question arises, what difference is there between slavery and universal health care? Most doctors, particularly in the emergency department, have despised what their ED has turned into after the ACA. An example from a high-trafficked midwestern ED follows. A middle-aged woman called an ambulance for a hangnail, and then while being checked on in the ED, she demanded that her kids be given their check-up because the physician was there. All the meanwhile this was not being paid for by her, it was being paid for by that physician through taxes and fees imposed on him. This is not right, not moral, not ethical. In no way can it be thought as such. When you impose a service as a right onto society, you impose the labor of those that make the service run as an implied right. A counterpoint often brought up was that most physicians would be more than happy to serve still. This rationalization is irrelevant for multiple reasons. Doctors may be content in certain workplace scenarios, but according to recent surveys of practicing doctors, 71 percent of physicians are happier in independent practice than in a traditional hospital setting. This is true in almost all fields. The more independence an individual has, the happier they will be. This applies for government interference. The less a physician is dictated to by the commissar—in essence the more free a person is—the more content that physician will be with their work. The idea that someone is happy working under these conditions shows an incomplete knowledge of workplace environments. If someone believes that they are serving their fellow man, they will certainly feel elated. If this is done in a more free way however—as shown in America—their contentment with their job will rise. The fact, also, that a human likes his or her job, does not mean that human is no longer a slave. A slave is “one that is completely subservient to a dominating influence.” Physicians are completely subservient to their government in nations that have universal health care. Only in countries without nationalized health care can physicians truly be considered free. If labor is compulsory, then that human is a slave. This is not to be conflated through the American lens/expectation of the word, however it is important to realize that the physician is still, definitionally, a slave nonetheless.
Take this argument for universal health care to its logical end. If health care is a right, why should the United States not provide health care for all of Africa, Asia, South America, etc.? Why does this right for all to have health insurance stop at an imaginary border? If, indeed it does not stop, why is it specifically the United States’s obligation to provide this service? The answer, of course, is that it is not. Those that propose universal coverage do not take their reasoning to its logical end, and that is a major issue that seldom is mentioned in the discussion.
Morally, ethically, and logically, universal healthcare can not be seen as a liberating action; quite the contrary. In every country that has attempted it, quality and costs have not been helped. Physicians are nothing more than state servants, and the average man is left without anything to show for this nationalization. Those over 65 are told that they are not valued enough to be granted more expensive surgeries—unless they are connected that is. It is through freedom, not authoritarianism and involuntary servitude that the health care issue will be resolved.