Why Health Insurance Should Not Be Universal

by | Jun 30, 2007

Should the federal government require everyone to buy health insurance? If the goal is “universal coverage,” then obviously the answer is yes. But that isn’t the point. The point is that it isn’t the duty or right of the government to force people to buy insurance, any more than it’s the duty or right of […]

Should the federal government require everyone to buy health insurance? If the goal is “universal coverage,” then obviously the answer is yes. But that isn’t the point. The point is that it isn’t the duty or right of the government to force people to buy insurance, any more than it’s the duty or right of the government to cover people with insurance. It’s an individual’s duty to do this for himself. Yes, health insurance is too expensive for most people, and impossibly expensive for some. In this context, the responsibility of the government is to immediately and completely deregulate the health insurance and medical fields. This means no more rules or regulations of ANY kind, except for objective fraud and objective malpractice. This will establish a market for medical care just as we have a market for cell phones and computers and televisions. Just as the mostly free market has made these things affordable for essentially everyone, so too would that happen in a free market for medical care. I realize that it’s not going to happen. It could, and it might many decades down the road, but it’s not going to happen now. Back in 1993-94, I thought so; I no longer do. People are too used to the notion of a third party paying for your insurance and your medical care. Consequently, no politician who wants to remain in office would ever propose a sweeping deregulation of the field, which would require (among other things) the federal government to step in and outlaw all state regulations of the medical and insurance fields. But keep in mind: this is our only choice.

Keep this in mind as health insurance continues getting more expensive, and as the government continues taking over more and more of the financing (and therefore practice) of medicine.

Do you hate the idea of medicine being a business? Fine. But in a business, the provider of services works for YOU–the customer, or the patient. The main complaint underlying most doctors today is not that they’re incompetent, but that they act like they don’t work for, or care all that much, about the patient. They’re not available, attentive, or all that concerned. In the United States, many doctors but not ALL doctors are like this, because we still have some freedom in medicine. In Canada, under socialism, no doctors need to care because they work for the government, not the patient–just as the postal worker does. Doctors’ rights are violated, too. For example, under socialism the government can tell doctors where to practice and forbid them from charging patients fees outside of the government-mandated rates. The reason that fewer doctors care in America than in the past is because the regulation of health care, and the crazy web of rules and payment schedules determined ultimately by Medicare, causes doctors to be preoccupied with following the dictates of their employer. Quite naturally, they have less time and energy for the patient.

You can’t expect the benefits of a free market–doctors who care, and work for the patient–while empowering your elected leaders to further and further undermine freedom and rationality in medicine. The health care crisis is not the fault of our politicians, including Hillary Clinton.

Power-hungry politicians feed off the irrationality of the citizenry. If the citizenry were more rational, there would be no place in the political system for politicians who value power over freedom and justice. Today’s problems with medical care are the fault of the people who want the results of capitalism while instructing their leaders to install more socialism.

So long as we keep expanding socialism in medicine, as we have for almost a century now, the situation will continue to worsen. If you want the benefits of capitalism, you have to pay for them. If you don’t want to pay for them, then don’t expect anything worth paying for.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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