Skip to content

We’re Better Off With Medical Freedom

Here is a quote by Ron Paul, that was toward the end of an interview with The Judge on Freedom Watch:

I disagree with the delivery of health care by the government. Any time the government delivers a service, the cost goes up and the quality goes down, and whether it’s education or whether it’s medical care. I want medical care delivered more like cell phones and TVs and computers, because… there’s the least amount of regulation, the prices keep dropping, and poor people end up with TVs and cell phones. That’s what would happen with services, too…

Now, some people seem to be thinking that Dr. Paul is comparing to material goods such as cell phones and TVs something as “important” as medical care, but that is not what he is referring to. Dr. Paul is saying that the reason material goods, such as cell phones and TVs, are relatively inexpensive and that even poor people can afford to buy, is because the manufacturing, production and delivery of those goods are minimally regulated by the government. The fewer regulations, and financial burdens such as fees and taxes, imposed on manufacturers by government, the lower the costs of the manufacturing, and thus the lower the products’ prices are for the consumers, while the higher the regulatory and financial burdens imposed by the government, i.e. bureaucratic red tape and other unnecessary distractions and inconveniences, the higher the costs are for the manufacturers and thus the higher their prices are.

Like it or not, and even though medical care is among the needed “human services,” the relationships between the providers and medical consumers are similar to those between manufacturers and consumers, and are just as affected by intrusions by the government. And yes, the medical care regulations, taxes, fees, licensure, etc imposed by government are intrusions — economic intrusions, as well as personal intrusions.

For example, prior to the dreaded ObamaCare, medical providers have had mountains and mountains of paperwork, bureaucratic red tape, as well as fees and licenses, all of which are costly and THAT has been what’s driving up the costs of medical care. Instead of this new Soviet-style complete government-control over Americans’ private medical matters and relationships with doctors or insurers, if we want to actually lower the costs of health care we need to go the OTHER WAY and REDUCE all those intrusions by the government that have done nothing but drive up the costs. Get rid of all the regulations, taxes, fees, licensure and so on — in other words, remove the shackles of State harassment, theft, and State-protectionism of Established medical providers, and you’ll see the costs of medical provision fall dramatically, as well as the corruption, and, believe it or not — and a lot of people who are already anti-”free market” won’t like this — but with a system that relies on competitiveness in the medical marketplace the quality of medical care will go up. And by the way, as I’ve mentioned before, licensure does not protect consumers from bad doctors. Licensure protects bad doctors from prospective competition, just as tenure protects bad teachers and professors.

Another problem with government involvement with (and intrusions into) medical care is this insurance addiction. As long as we have “insurance,” then it’s okay to just eat like pigs, drink like fish and smoke like chimneys. “Insurance” discourages people from taking care of themselves, and does not motivate people toward preventive measures in their lifestyles. The intrusiveness of government central planning of a population’s medical matters causes social and economic dysfunction. As Lew Rockwell noted, “insurance” is “subsidized sickness.”

In the in-between years, the Soviet Union became host to one of the most backward, murderous, and coercive systems of medical provision ever concocted. The country trained more doctors than any in the world, but the vital statistics showed a more complete picture. Lifespans averaged 10 to 20 years less than in western countries. Infant mortality was twice as high. By the time of the collapse of socialism, 80 million people were said to have chronic illnesses, and up to 68 percent of the public was health-deficient by international standards. Mental retardation afflicted nearly a quarter of the children — a consequence of serious deprivation.

It was impossible for ordinary people to have access to decent drugs. Stores carried only the most primitive medicines. However, the country was flooded with penicillin, as ordered in the central plan, a plan which was not altered even after the citizens became resistant to it. The hospitals housed 12 to 16 patients per room. More than a third of rural hospitals had no running water. Syringes were reused an average of 1,000 times. To keep up with the planned death rate, hospitals routinely threw people out before they died so that the hospital wouldn’t go beyond its quota.

Of course most real care went underground, where bribing for anaesthesia was common. Former Soviet economist Yuri N. Maltsev points out that this method was even used in the case of abortion, which was the most common surgical procedure in the Soviet Union. After Maltsev emigrated to the US, he was astonished to see that the US was adopting many of the principles that drove the old Soviet system. But in the US, it is not called socialism or communism. It is called insurance.

Here is Yuri Maltzev’s article on Soviet medicine at the Mises Institute.

Hans-Hermann Hoppe has this article on insurance, insurance cartels vs. competition, and the limitations of insurability for further reading.

And Dr. Paul Hsieh has this article on how freedom of contract protects insurability.

Published inUncategorized