The Free Healthcare Debate

Healthcare has become outrageously expensive in most developed nations of the world. For instance, American citizens who do not have health insurance are relatively sure that they will not be able to meet their own healthcare costs. The same is the situation in many countries around the world. This has created a debate wherein healthcare is now being said to be the responsibility of the government.

There are many countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom wherein free healthcare is now the norm. From a humanitarian point of view, free healthcare seems to be a plausible idea. However, as soon as the hard-hitting facts of economic reality are introduced in the picture, free healthcare for all no longer remains a possibility. In this article, we will explore both the moral and the economic aspects of the free health care debate.

The Right to Free Healthcare

The basis of the free healthcare demand comes from the assumption that healthcare is a humanitarian right and should not be denied to anyone. Since it is a right like life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness it should be taken care of by the government.

However, this right to free healthcare is a self-defeating argument. This is because everyone has the right to keep the fruits of their own labor. Hence, no one has the right to receive free stuff be it food, clothing or healthcare. This is because these goods need to be produced. Therefore, if they are given away for free, it would be an infringement on the rights of the people who are producing it.

Just like patients have rights, the physicians and doctors have human rights too. It would be an infringement of their right to earn a living if the government asked them to provide services for free.

Similarly, when governments start taxing one citizen to provide for the healthcare of the other, they are just transferring the fruits of the labor of one man to another. People can voluntarily contribute to the illness of their countrymen. However, forcing people to part with a percentage of their income is morally incorrect.

Hence, no one really has a right to free healthcare. These are mere statements made by politicians who want to expand the scope of the government to grab more tax dollars. Once these tax dollars are in their kitty, they spend some of it on healthcare while embezzling some of it to build private wealth. Nationalized healthcare is a scam which should be avoided at all costs.

How Are Markets Distorted?

Free healthcare is not only incorrect on moral level. It also causes grievous economic harm. The free healthcare system distorts the free market.

  • Monopoly: In countries like Canada, healthcare services are being monopolized. This means that the government becomes a party to all patient-doctor interactions. Hence, instead of being a free competitive market, healthcare services are provided by a monopolistic bureaucracy.

    Free markets are inherently sensitive to customer demands. Companies that pay attention to customer demands survive whereas those that do not pay attention perish. On the other hand, bureaucracies do not have any incentive to be customer friendly.

    Monopolies simply forbid other competitive service providers and are able to survive despite providing mediocre service. Hence it can be said that the monopolization by the government is causing healthcare standards to be lowered in these nations.

  • Excess Demand: When something is free it is not valued by the customers. The same goes for healthcare. When patients have to pay for healthcare, they are careful as to when they seek medical advice. However, when patients have to pay for healthcare, they are more cautious about when to use the service. This is the reason why countries with free healthcare systems find that they have created excess demand.

    Patients flock to doctors for the smallest of ailments. As a result, more doctors and even more hospitals are required. The entire medical infrastructure has to be expanded to accommodate this frivolous demand.

  • Shortages: Healthcare is supposed to be like any other service. People who need it should be able to purchase it. However, because of the monopolistic system set up by the government, people are forced to wait in line to receive their services. Notice that this is different from food, clothing or any other product or service.

    The shortages and long wait times are the byproduct of free healthcare systems. These situations are commonly seen in countries like Canada. On the other hand, in countries where patients are supposed to pay for these services, they can get immediate medical attention. A free healthcare program provided by the government worsens the situation for everybody.

  • Tax Dollars: A free-for-all healthcare system is going to be inefficient by nature. However, the governments in these nations claim that they will reduce the inefficiency. They build elaborate plans which require funding by more and more tax dollars.

    In the end, the system becomes so wasteful that the society pays several times more for their healthcare needs than they would have otherwise paid. Healthcare costs are adding massively to fiscal deficit in nations where free healthcare system has been implemented.

To sum it up, healthcare is not a right but rather a responsibility. The government does not have the right to take money from people who judiciously save for the future and give it those who don’t. Securing your health has always been an individual prerogative, and it must remain so.

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