Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Health Care Rationing

As we approach that point where we begin working on WHAT services will be provided, HOW they will be consumed, and by WHO - there is an aspect of the Health Care we must face called RATIONING.

It has been well-documented that (primarily to control costs) Canada, Great Britain and other socialized systems routinely restrict access to 'expensive' treatments and services. The critical nature or 'need' for the service is cast aside and a decision is rendered on purely economic considerations. The best interests of the patient - as defined by the care provider and patient - fall to the bottom of the list.

We do *not* want that to happen here...

First, we must recognize that rationing does *NOT* occur in the free market... Hold on there! Do Not succumb to the temptation and head down the road which claims the free market is just "another way to ration", only it uses Price instead of Government Decree. Many contend that "government must intervene" to guarantee a (supposedly) "fair" distribution of goods and services. Hogwash. Why do you think rationing happens in those other systems?

You don't think government controls in this country - because we're smarter - will lead to rationing? ... Remember sugar in WWII? How about gas in the 1970's?...

Let's consider this definition for Rationing: to distribute in a particular manner, by the decision of an absolute authority, with the recipients having no choice whatsoever considering what they are to receive. While it can be argued "everyone has an equal claim to whatever is being rationed" - this *claim* is meaningless since distribution is under control of an appointed 'master' who may choose to ignore any 'claim' without fear of retribution.

I don't have to personally experience being forced by law to 'stay down on the plantation' and be grateful for the largess bestowed upon me by my masters to recognize Slavery when I see it. Electing or appointing my 'master' doesn't change what I will have become.

We must remember that Health Care does not grow on trees. Effort is required. The effort of rational and learned thought. The effort of applied skill, experience, and hard work. THESE EFFORTS ARE NOT FREE! (TANSTAAFL!)

In a free society, it is the Producers - not the government - which create the good or service. It is morally correct and appropriate that they define the price they are willing to accept from a willing consumer. In a Free Society, there is no "just" or "fair" distribution of product apart from the voluntary exchange between Producer and Consumer in a free market.

I will not sugar-coat the obvious: Government programs which attempt to guarantee "universal health care" are, at best, state-sanctioned THEFT, or in some cases, outright SLAVERY. The free market is the antithesis of rationing. It respects individual rights, where rationing unjustly violates individual rights and restricts freedom.

This is a critical moral distinction that we ignore at our peril.

Now - I will concede that the current (American) system is not a true free market, either. (It's a hodge-podge mixture.) However, there *are* aspects of today's marketplace - which, not coincidentally, are the least-regulated - which enjoy the benefits of following the typical free-market pattern of falling prices and rising quality. This is not limited to cell phones and personal computers... you can see it in the Health Care arena with the marketplace evolution of services and procedures such as LASIK eye surgery.

The Free Market *can* work... if it is allowed to. It's a Win-Win scenario - the seller benefits by getting a price he will accept, the buyer gets the product/service he desires. The alternative, absolute government control of the entire process, is where (eventually) no one wins.

Free-market concepts can and should be an integral part - and should be the norm - for any Health Care system which has the intention of being a long-term success in providing Health Care.

Look at it this way... one day, we're going to need an MRI for a proper and accurate diagnosis (I have personally had several). Without a healthy respect for freedom, individual rights and the inherent property rights... we'll be waiting six months on that MRI - just like all those other socialism-based experiments - instead of only waiting six days, or maybe even six hours.

- Steve

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