In the United States, Medicare costs (along with the cost of health care services generally) continue to rise to unsustainable levels. As patient satisfaction levels decline, many Americans have been led to call for a Canadian-style ‘universal’ health care system. Meanwhile in Canada, and unknown to most Americans, health care waiting lists continue to grow, as more and more Canadians find themselves unable to get the basic care they need.
While each country boasts excellent health care services, broad accessibility to these services has become another matter entirely. Common to both countries are various prohibitions of the provision of medical services on a truly free market, which guarantees cost escalation. As more people find it difficult to afford their basic health care needs, politicians have seized upon the problem they caused by offering them a means to access those services without incurring a direct personal cost – socialized health care.
In the perpetual controversy over socialized health care, confusion reigns supreme, partially due to the varying testimonials of patients within a given system. Some are quite happy with the medical services they receive, while most appear less so. Another reason has to do with the fact that at any given point in time, only a minority of people find themselves forced to experience their health care systems directly, while the vast majority has no direct knowledge of the crisis looming at their doorsteps.
For politicians, selling socialized medicine takes the form a complex propaganda effort, based on a moral declaration that everyone has a ‘right to health care,’ and by enshrining that declaration in the form of ‘fundamental principles.’ Thus, the fundamental principles of Medicare (public administration, comprehensiveness, universality, portability, accessibility) are considered sacred and inviolable; consequently, no politician dares question them. To do so would be ‘politically incorrect.’
Worse, no longer is ‘affordable health care’ an objective; now the political objective has become ‘free health care for all’ – a sure formula for creating a disaster for all. Far from being considered ‘sacred,’ Medicare’s principles should be considered immoral, given their false premise, the false promises made, and the necessity of violating individual rights in the provision of those promises.
Suggested solutions and fixes to socialized health care’s long waiting lists and increasingly unsustainable costs have not changed since the birth of socialized health care itself. These include perpetual suggestions like “allowing more privatization” both in the provision of medical services and/or in the provision of insurance plans. However, even if acted upon, these suggestions are hopelessly ineffective at correcting a problem that will continue to escalate against the unlimited demands have been placed on the system. Worse, they will never be effectively acted upon in the first place, because they violate socialized health care’s ‘sacred immorality’ to which politicians have sworn their allegiance.
To understand the flaw inherent in the principles of Medicare in a way that health care might be set Just Right, it is important to realize that the problem is not an economic one, but a moral one.