Do people have the right to free healthcare? That is a question that some on the political left, mostly coming from the camps of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, would say yes. If you’re coming from reality though, then you’d say no. The arguements are being waged back and forth these days, and this topic seems to be picking up steam. Obamacare has been predicted by many on the right to end in socialized healthcare, where it basically is free. Vermont, the state that Senator Sanders represents, was moving for a socialized system, but dropped plans earlier this year.
S0, do people have a right to free healthcare? First off, let’s answer this: is it a natural right? Natural rights were explained by Locke to be Life, Liberty, and Property. Many liberals try to claim that free healthcare falls under the Right to Life, and is thus a natural right. This would be wrong.
Free healthcare is a “positive” right. In order for this “right” to be fulfilled, others people must provide for the people claiming this right. In the case of “free healthcare”, the doctors and physicians and nurses providing the services would be forced to do it for those who were seeking care. This kind of “right” isn’t really possible, and are not compatible with real (aka negative) rights.
Healthcare is a good. We need to make this clear. Bill Flax, writing for RealClearMarkets, writes:
We don’t have a right to good health. We do have a right to live how best we know to improve our health, but we didn’t pop out of the womb with a divine guaranty of ease and comfort. Nor can the state offer such.
One person’s misfortune never constitutes society’s obligation. A problem aggravated by social programs is the entitlement attitudes they engender. That government somehow bears responsibility to remove the pain and hardship from life. Unfortunately, Americans have grown inured to statist “solutions” and now flock to politicians who promise Utopian fantasies.
Politicians may transform luxuries like advanced medical care into rights, but they can’t make healthcare free. They can filter it through an all powerful bureaucracy and disguise its high costs, but government cannot guaranty one’s treatment without confiscating their citizens’ property.
That last paragraph holds an important line. “…government cannot guaranty one’s treatment without confiscating their citizens’ property.” If you have the natural right to property, then to have the “right to free healthcare”, the society must be willing to give up it’s natural right to property. Only one of these two are natural, and since one is a positive right, depending on a certain group of people to sell their labor at lower prices than they would in a free market, and another group possibly including them to give up their natural right to property, the likelyhood of a “right to free healthcare” happening won’t come at a good price to many of the people in that society, and would not make for a good cost-benefit analysis.
What would be the costs to go to “free healthcare”? Since nothing in reality is really free, as everything has a cost to it, the costs here would likely be high. Speaking as a future dental student myself, the costs for me to become a doctor now are pretty high. I would need:
- Undergraduate college
- Graduate college
- Dental school
- Internship + Residency
These alone, are going to wind up being tens of thousands of dollars. I would know. My tuition for college as it is is 5 digits. And it’s easier now to get extra money in the form of scholarships and private grants and loans than later down the road, unless you’ve got really good credit. By the end of this road, I’m probably going to be in a bit of debt. I’m going to need to pay this all off eventually, and pushing these off won’t help. And I cannot forget Continuing Education, as I’d still be bound to doing that to keep my certification.
What the “free healthcare” would bring about is a system that basically tells doctors and physicians what they do with the human capital they acquired in medical school, and post-secondary training. It’s basically letting the controllers of that system, most likely government, control what procedures are done, by who, and to whom. Doctors and physicians, in essence, become servants of the state. They become slaves, and that’s not what I’m going to school for.
Many liberals will again make the call for basic minimum access to healthcare. Beyond again conscripting doctors and physicians (limited), this will still do them little good, and the costs for these operations will be passed onto the other patients that the doctors care for, and thus, their prices will probably rise, causing some to not be able to afford the care they had, and move onto the basic care that screwed them in the first place. These types of programs, at their core, mean to simply bring people down. Liberals will try to argue against this, but a look at LBJ’s Great Society programs will show this.
So, to wrap this up; do you have a right to healthcare, or free healthcare? No, not at all. You have the right to life, as that is a natural right, but that means that people have the control of their own lives. They cannot, under this, force someone to do something for them without their consent, or giving something to them of equivalent value (like money). Free healthcare is something that would only make things worse, as prices would only continue to go up, due to government price controls further hampering the market forces that already represent consumer demand and supply. Healthcare is something Americans need to take back, not only from the hands of government, but also from the hands of their employers too. It must be made personal again, and most importantly, we must lift the mandate that all must have insurance. Households can only afford so much, and making them pay much more for a service they didn’t have but also couldn’t afford before, doesn’t help them. It only worsens their conditions.