Here is an excerpt from an article (Moral Health Care vs. “Universal Health Care”) by FIRM's founders Lin Zinser and Paul Hsieh.
Although American scientists, doctors, and businessmen have produced the most advanced medical technology in the world, American health care is in a state of crisis. Technologically, we are surrounded by medical marvels: New “clot buster” drugs enable patients to survive heart attacks that once would have been fatal; new forms of “keyhole surgery” enable patients with appendicitis to be treated and discharged within twenty-four hours, whereas previously they would have spent a week in the hospital; advances in cancer treatment enabled bicyclist Lance Armstrong to beat a testicular cancer, which, had he lived fifty years ago, would have killed him; and so on.
From an economic perspective, however, such medical treatments are increasingly out of reach to many Americans. Health care costs, as reported by the New York Times, are rising twice as fast as inflation.1 And health insurance, as reported by USA Today, “is becoming increasingly unaffordable for many employers and working people.”2 A decreasing percentage of employers are offering health insurance benefits to their workers, and many of those who are offering benefits are requiring their employees to pay a greater percentage of the costs.3 The U.S. Census Bureau reported in 2007 that nearly forty-seven million Americans had no health insurance, a sharp increase of ten million people from a mere fifteen years earlier.4 In short, there is a major disconnect between existing life-saving medical technology and the ability of Americans to afford it.
This discord is affecting doctors as well. The American Medical Association warns physicians that, due to the lack of affordable health insurance, “more patients will delay treatment and . . . doctors will likely see more uncompensated care.”5 Hence, each year doctors are working harder and harder but making less and less money, resulting in a “critical level” of stress and burnout. According to a recent survey of doctors, “30 to 40 percent of practicing physicians would not choose to enter the medical profession if they were deciding on a career again, and an even higher percentage would not encourage their children to pursue a medical career.”6
Total spending on health care in the United States amounts to nearly 17 percent of the entire economy, and this is expected to rise to 20 percent by 2015, “with annual spending consistently growing faster than the overall economy.”7 Because of skyrocketing health care costs, the U.S. federal Medicare trust fund is expected to go bankrupt in 2019, less than twelve years from now, potentially leaving millions of elderly Americans without health insurance coverage.8 American health care is in dire straits and will continue to worsen—unless Americans demand fundamental political change to reverse the trend. Unfortunately, the kinds of changes currently being proposed by politicians will only exacerbate the problem.
Politicians from across the political spectrum, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, have argued that the government should guarantee “universal coverage” to all Americans, making health care a “right.”9 And politicians are not alone; numerous businessmen, union leaders, and insurance executives are united in saying that this will solve our problems.10
It will not.
Contrary to claims that government-imposed “universal health care” would solve America’s health care problems, it would in fact destroy American medicine and countless lives along with it. The goal of “universal health care” (a euphemism for socialized medicine) is both immoral and impractical; it violates the rights of businessmen, doctors, and patients to act on their own judgment—which, in turn, throttles their ability to produce, administer, or purchase the goods and services in question. To show this, we will first examine the nature and history of government involvement in health insurance and medicine. Then we will consider attempts in other countries and various U.S. states to solve these problems through further government programs. Finally, we will show that the only viable long-term solution to the problems in question is to convert to a fully free market in health care and health insurance.