As the debate over health reform intensifies, expect lawmakers to muddy the waters by declaring health care a fundamental “right”. If health care is a “right” then lawmakers will be able to argue that it is necessarily mandated by law—thus opening the door for universal government health care.
Health care, in America, is not actually an explicit right afforded to the general population. The “right” to health care appears in only one place in America’s governing documents, including the Bill of Rights. Under Amendment VIII, health care must be provided to federal prisoners. The creators of our government believed withholding care from the miscreants of our penal system constituted cruel and unusual punishment.
It is fitting that government health care is only provided to prisoners. If health reform of the current vein is allowed to pass, Americans will find themselves prisoners to an inadequate health system. Americans will soon find that they have no rights and no choices—just like prisoners.
Government health care plans are “effective” because they monopolize purchasing power and generalize services. In other words, they force participants to accept common generic services, and achieve savings through quantity and price controls.
In order to achieve the savings politicians crave, the government will need to be able to purchase services en masse. This in turn requires that as many people as possible participate in the federal program. Since no private insurer or service provider will be able to compete with the massive purchasing power of the government, the private health industry will inevitably crumble and the socialization of American health care will be complete.
If this progression seems inevitable, that’s because it is. However, it is not the only choice available. Many critics believe that the free-market approach to health care has failed. That assumption is categorically incorrect. The U.S. health system is plagued by numerous bureaucratic hurdles and regulations which automatically remove the term “free” from the health care market. Repealing regulations, shifting the responsibility for care to the states and the individual, and pursuing information technologies which can educate the consumer may provide a cost-effective solution, and render government care unnecessary.
Once the government assumes control of an industry it is notoriously difficult to roll-back the infectious meddling of the federal bureaucracy. While the government has the power of guns and laws on its side, the citizen has the increasingly potent power of voice.
Americans have the unique ability to buy the services they need, and the services they are able to afford—it is this aspect of American health care which draws foreign dignitaries and celebrities to American clinics, and distinguishes our system from the socialized forms of medicine found in Europe and elsewhere.
Health care is not generic; there is no set group of services for every man, woman, and child. The right to choice is fundamental to America’s adherence to the principle of liberty. American citizens have the liberty to pay and choose services that fit their own lifestyles, not those of their neighbors. As the health care debate moves forward, Americans should remember that the Constitution was drafted to protect citizens against tyranny—tyranny of majority or minority, and the accumulation of power in any given entity.