So says Michael Millenson in the Washington Post:
Despite much media hand-wringing on the subject, most of us give about as much thought to those who lack health coverage as we do to soybean subsidies.The major obstacle to change? Those of us with insurance simply don’t care very much about those without it. It’s only when health care costs spike sharply, the economy totters or private employers begin to cut back on benefits that the lack of universal health care comes into focus. Noticing the steadily growing ranks of the uninsured, the broad American public — “us” — begins to worry that we’ll soon be joining the ranks of “them.”
I’m reminded of a passage from Frederic Bastiat’s The Law:
Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all. We disapprove of state education. Then the socialists say that we are opposed to any education. We object to a state religion. Then the socialists say that we want no religion at all. We object to a state-enforced equality. Then they say that we are against equality. And so on, and so on. It is as if the socialists were to accuse us of not wanting persons to eat because we do not want the state to raise grain.
In this instance it is the liberals accusing us of not wanting people to have medicare care because we do not want the federal government to provide it.
This is a common theme for the liberal left. If you oppose yet another attempt of theirs to expand America’s already too-large entitlements system (the one that isn’t sustainable even at current spending levels) then you don’t care about whatever victim group they’re busy pandering to at the moment. Usually some combination of single mothers, the elderly, minorities and/or children.
The truth is that opponents to universal health care do care, it’s just that we know government-run health care would be a solution that’s worse than the problem. In order to extend health care coverage to the minority of Americans who don’t have it now, thus making it “universal,” we would have to lower the quality of care received by the majority of Americans who have no problem affording their own health care.
Because you cannot supply an unlimited supply of something on a finite budget. Under a government-run health care system you wouldn’t be able to get all of the coverage you’d want. Services would have to be rationed. Waiting lists would be drawn up for certain procedures so that government hospitals could be kept on budget. Bureaucrats would have to decide whether or not it was worth expending tax dollars on procedures for the elderly. Your knee surgery might have to be postponed for months, and even years, because someone else needs a MRI and the bureaucrats decided that they’re a higher priority than you.
And if you get cancer in your 70’s…well…some bureaucrat may decide that you’re too old to be worth fixing, which is a sad story an elderly breast cancer survivor who came to America for care told my grandmother and I at a cancer support meeting.
Is government-run health care – and all the limitations, frustrations and exorbitantly high taxes that go with it – really the price we want to pay for expanding coverage to the relatively few Americans who don’t already have it within their means?
Look at it this way: No health care system is going to be perfect. In all systems people will fall through the cracks and not receive the care they deserve. Given that reality, our goal should be the best possible coverage for the maximum number of people. And the best way to reach that goal is not to lower the quality of care to the lowest common denominator so that everyone in America can enjoy mediocre care but rather to have a health care market where each individual seeks out the best health care solutions available to them.
Which still isn’t perfect, but at least in such a system the individual has a choice. In a government-run system there is no choice. You either get your care from the government, abiding by the limitations and regulations they set, or not at all.