How can you tell that the ‘health care is a right’ arguments are flawed? Governments rationing procedures to cut costs tells you all you need to know.
As Republicans in D.C. failed to pass reform of the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a Obamacare) in the first half of 2017, the push from Senate Democrats and other leftists for socialized medicine has gotten stronger. Health care, they say, is a universal right that should be denied to no one.
But health care is not a right. First and foremost, you do not have a right to someone else’s services or labor but – that fact aside – the actions of nations where universal health care is the norm reveal that universal health care is not a right, as it is routinely rationed and controlled by the state. The latest story out of the United Kingdom shows that there are certain groups for whom “universal health care” is not, in fact, for them. And when supporters defend the systems that routinely deny patients care to reduce costs, they are admitting health care isn’t a right.
Obese patients and smokers will be denied routine surgery in “most severe” rationing of under the National Health Service (NHS). Obese patients (those with a body mass index of 30+) and smokers will be denied hip and knee replacement surgery for up to a year to control the budget deficits under which the NHS operates. In the past two years, “blanket bans” on referrals for patients were imposed based on their weight, and the NHS overspent by £2.45 billion in 2015-2016, three times the deficit in the previous year. A spokesperson for the NHS said that “Major surgery poses much higher risks for severely overweight patients who smoke…reducing obesity and cutting smoking not only benefits patients, but saves the NHS and taxpayers billions of pounds.”
And therein lies the rub.
When the government pays for your “free” health care, they have an interest in saving money; whether through rationing, or through forcing lifestyle changes on people for otherwise legal activity and un-preferred lifestyle choices.
In Canada, too, wait times are high for routine procedures, diagnostic testing, and other procedures. The wait times for “medically necessary” procedures was 20 weeks. In 2015, there was a 25% jump in the number of patients coming to the United States for non-emergency medical treatment from the previous year. Dr. Brian Day, formerly of the Canadian Medical Association, said Canadian health care spending is among the highest in the world, but Canada is at the bottom as far as access and quality. In the United Kingdom, nine of ten hospitals are overcrowded. A majority of medical advances and innovations have come from the United States; few have been created in Canada or the United Kingdom, as there are no funds to put into research and advancement because there aren’t enough funds to treat patients.
We go back to the case of Charlie Gard; his parents wanted to bring him to America for experimental treatment for mitochondrial disease. The hospital said no, and went to the courts, who sided with the hospital. Charlie Gard died on July 28, and those who support the hospital and the courts say it was in the best interest of Charlie to let him die so as not to “prolong suffering” because there was no guaranteed outcome for the experimental treatment. There is no guaranteed outcome for a slew of medical treatments, ranging from insulin shots for diabetics to chemotherapy for cancer patients. “Charlie’s condition was incompatible with life,” others said. True, but most disease processes are “incompatible with life” if not treated. For Charlie Gard and his family, socialized health care was no longer a universal human right, but a tool meant to end his suffering, against the wishes of his parents.
Likewise, a 14-month-old boy named Alfie has an undiagnosed condition that causes him seizures and has left him in a coma; the Liverpool hospital where he’s being treated wants to turn off his life support while his parents want to bring him to the United States for treatment. According to LifeSiteNews, the parents have been told to retain counsel, as the hospital prepares to do to Alfie what was done to Charlie Gard.
In the Netherlands, proposals to allow assisted suicide for persons older than 75, even if they are perfectly healthy, have been made; these sorts of proposals often morph from a “right” to die to a duty to die. A female doctor there was only reprimanded for drugging a patient and forcibly euthanizing her. The patient, who had dementia, repeatedly said she did not want to die and fought the fatal treatment to the point family members had to hold her down. Despite “safeguards” in euthanasia laws, the doctor was ruled to have not violated them, and that she acted “in good faith.” In what world does a doctor actively kill a combative patient “in good faith”? In the world of socialized medicine, where the “right” to health care ends when you’re too young, too old, too fat, too disabled, or otherwise too expensive to care for.
In the United States, the VA system – a government-run health care network – sees massive, intentional delays in treatment, leading to the deaths of countless veterans. If the VA cannot manage such a small population of patients (there are approximately 1.2 million active and 21.8 veteran military members, less than 10% of the population of the United States), how will the government that runs the VA be able to run health care for 300 million-plus people?
Supporters of socialized medicine routinely ignore the rationing and denial of care – or justify it as “not prolonging suffering” or “saving money” – but will also complain that greedy insurance companies deny patient’s claims all the time. They do, but at least with private insurance, there is recourse and there are other options. Even going into bankruptcy to pay for something like cancer treatment is an option, and far preferable to being given a lethal injection by the state for your “own good.”
Both Canada and the United Kingdom have populations far smaller than the United States. As their health care systems crack under the burden of “free” care for all, it doesn’t take an economist to see any such system in America would crack under the strain much faster, and even more disastrously. The rationing in America would – by necessity – have to be far more severe. The medical innovations we make would disappear, and things like our high cancer survival rates would plummet. There would be no “universal” health care because we wouldn’t be able to afford it, even with the necessarily astronomical tax rates required to fund “free” medical care.
Proponents of such a system can argue it is more altruistic and “fair” than what we in America have now (it isn’t), but they should at least be honest and admit “universal” health care isn’t really a right and that it’s not universal, not when it is so heavily rationed and regulated that people are routinely denied even basic treatment because it’s unaffordable, or because they happen to engage in lifestyle choices with which the government disagrees.