23 April 2009

Universal Health Care Sucks

I've often said that the egalitarian impulse towards universal health care--broadly, socialized medicine--is pleasant sounding rhetoric that really means everyone's health care will suck equally.

Thomas Sowell, as he is wont to do, makes a better point about the difference between health care and medical care. At first brush, it seems like a splitting of hairs, but it is not.

To wit:
Insurance is not medical care. Indeed, health care is not the same as medical care. Countries with universal health care do not have more or better medical care.
We often hear the number--40 million--of uninsured people in the United States as though this were itself a problem begging for a solution. It almost never occurs to anyone that many of these people choose to go without health care--for whatever reason.
The bottom line is medical care. But the rhetoric and the talking points are about insurance. Many people who could afford health insurance do not choose to have it because they know that medical care will be available at the nearest emergency room, whether they have insurance or not.

This is especially true for young people, who do not anticipate long-term medical problems and who can always get a broken leg or an allergy attack taken care of at an emergency room — and spend their money on a more upscale lifestyle.

This may not be a wise decision but it is their decision, and there is no reason why other people should lose the right to make decisions for themselves because some people make questionable decisions.
Enough Sowell-quoting. Read the column for yourself. Universal Health Care isn't about bringing down the costs of health care. I don't care at all that the UK or Sweden or wherever spend less on health care than the United States. We spend more because (and I know this is going to shock some of you) we want to spend more on health care.

Sure, if you want the country to spend less on health care, give over control of it to government bureaucrats who will ration whatever limited medical options they make available--fewer MRIs, surgery only for the young, 1 drug option instead of unlimited, money for research for drugs which most successfully lobbied members of Congress.

And this is just a short list of things that occurred to me at 1:43am.

I'm not going to argue that US health care is the best it could be. I would argue that though flawed, it is the best in the world and further, that deregulation and simplification of insurance markets and de-coupling health care from employment, etc., etc., would make it even better. Socialization/universalization of health care would make it worse.

If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at lybberty@gmail.com.