No Right to “Free” Health Care
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No Right to “Free” Health Care

by Onkar Ghate | June 11, 2007

The cause of the U.S. health-care mess is governmental interference. The solution, therefore, is not more governmental control, whether via nationalized medical insurance or a government takeover of medicine.

Health insurance costs so much today because the government, on the premise that there exists a “right” to health care at someone else’s expense, has promised Americans a free lunch. When a person can consume medical services without needing to consider how to pay for them — Medicare, Medicaid, or the individual’s employer will foot the bill — demand skyrockets. The $2,000 elective liver test he or she would have forgone in favor of a better place to live suddenly becomes a necessity when its cost seems to add up to $0.

As the expense of providing “free” health care erupts accordingly, the government tries to control costs by clamping down on the providers of health care. A massive net of regulations descends on doctors, nurses, insurers, and drug companies. As more of their endeavors are rendered unprofitable, drug companies produce fewer drugs, and insurers limit their policies or exit the industry.

Doctors and nurses, now buried in paperwork and faced with the endless, unjust task of appeasing government regulators, find their love for their work dissipating. They cut their hours or leave the profession. Many young people decide never to enter those fields in the first place.

What happens when demand skyrockets and supply is restricted? The price of medicine explodes. What was once to serve as a free lunch for everyone becomes lunch for no one.

The solution? Remove all controls. Recognize each citizen’s right and responsibility to pay for his or her own health care, and return to insurers the entrepreneurial freedom to come up with innovative products.

True freedom would bring health care into the reach of the average U.S. citizen again — just as it has done for other goods and services, such as computers, cell phones and food.

About The Author

Onkar Ghate

Chief Philosophy Officer and Senior Fellow, Ayn Rand Institute