Single Payer Sucks

Proponents of universal healthcare hold one of the most morally attractive political positions of present day.  That healthcare is a natural human right, and should be readily available to all regardless of socioeconomic standing.  On top of their moral high ground they pile on supposed proof of single payer’s merits by pointing to Canada, Scandinavia, and various other countries.  It’s their belief that if only such a system were implemented in the US, the problems associated with healthcare would largely be alleviated.

It’s a very emotionally pleasing opinion to hold.  Single payer advocates pat themselves on the back for being so benevolent to the poor and insurance-less, and claim that if it weren’t for their efforts, countless people would unnecessarily die.  Unfortunately, positive emotions for its proponents is about the only good thing that comes from single payer healthcare.

When subjected to reason, the only way for a single payer system to look attractive is to analyze it solely with emotion.  Logical and economic reasoning, along with an honest moral assessment, serve to show such a system to be the epitome of ugliness.

Economically, when the cost of a good or service is artificially dropped to $0, the demand for it will skyrocket.  When demand skyrockets, supply will fail to keep up.  When the supply of healthcare cannot meet the demand, the only way to solve the problem is through rationing.  Rationing inevitably leads to wait times, extended pain and suffering, and death.

It’s widely accepted that rationing is the natural consequence of government managed healthcare.  In an article that is supportive of single payer, the author says,

“Canadians have made a conscious decision to hold down costs. One of the ways they do that is by limiting supply, mostly for elective things, which can create wait times.”

It’s tough to identify the most concerning aspect of that statement, but the limitation of supply “mostly for elective things” is certainly at the top of the list.  In a single payer (or otherwise government controlled) system, who defines “elective”?  Whether or not a particular method of treatment is elective is a decision that can only be made by doctor and patient.  When this decision is placed in the hands of distant politicians and bureaucrats, the relationship between doctor and patient, and their ability to use free will to make healthcare decisions is irreparably harmed.

The word “mostly” in the above quotation is perhaps even more concerning.  Is one to conclude that even when central planners determine a treatment to be necessary – it can still be subject to rationing?  Supporters of universal healthcare cannot truly say that necessary procedures would NOT be subject to rationing.  If the demand for that procedure exceeded supply, logic and basic economics indicates that rationing would be unavoidable.

The Canadian single payer system is notorious for wait times.  A particularly troubling anecdote involves a man who needed both knees replaced.  The arthritis in his knees became so bad that he had bone grinding on bone.  It took him 4 months to get an appointment with a specialist, and then he was put 290th on a waiting list for the procedure.  While waiting, he became so desperate that he offered to purchase someone’s place in line ahead of him.  Needless to say, the provincial health care minister forbid that, calling it “unethical.”

Wait times and perversion of the patient-doctor relationship are just two of the major problems with a single payer system.  Patients’ ability to seek second opinions is another.  Imagine having waited several months to see a doctor.  You’ve never met the doctor before, and went to them only because it was the available appointment when your number was called.  The doctor makes a recommendation that you’re unsure of.  You’d like to get a second opinion.  But are you really going to wait in line another several months for that?  Likely not.  Patient options is one more victim of single payer systems.

Yet another major single payer problem is that healthcare decisions and policies are based on political rather than economic considerations.  It is a dangerous game to place this level of trust in the hands of corrupt politicians and inept bureaucrats.

Single payer proponents won’t readily admit that Canada’s healthcare system is a mess.  If they do, they’ll only go so far as to say that there are various reforms necessary to improve the situation.  Within Canada, they’ll point to Saskatchewan (which holds the lowest wait times among Canada’s provinces).  Internationally, they’ll point to Switzerland, The Netherlands, Germany, Japan, and Australia.

Virtually all of the proposed reforms involve moving healthcare in the direction of the market.  Saskatchewan chose to “partner with private medical providers”.  The international countries encourage “competition between regulated private insurers,” and require “patient cost-sharing through copayments and deductibles.”  Since shifting toward the market leads to better healthcare, the logical conclusion is to continue in that direction.

The alternative to single payer healthcare is not a “mixed” system.  It is not the system that currently exists in the US.  Principled opponents of universal healthcare argue that the only proper alternative is a completely free market.  No government intervention of any kind.  Elimination of all healthcare associated taxes.  Allowance for the exercise of free will and placing all decision making responsibilities back in the hands of patients.

In the US, useful steps forward would be the repeal of ACA, reduction of income taxes, elimination of healthcare regulations, and allowing individuals to “opt out” of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.  Eventually (and ideally sooner rather than later) the US Federal government needs to abolish the Department of Health and Human Services, and get itself out of the healthcare industry altogether.  Decisions related to healthcare policy should be moved down to the state and local levels – closer to the individual.  When this happens, there will be competition among systems, and individuals will be free to “vote with their feet.”

Is there anyone who would oppose the goal of seeing all people have easy access to high quality healthcare?  Of course not.  Unfortunately, that goal has not yet been realized – anywhere in the world.  The debate comes when speculating about the best way to achieve this.  There are only two sides to this debate.  One being the use of force, coercion, and central planning; the other being freedom.  Allowing individuals to exercise free will is always the economically, logically, and morally correct path to take.

Top 10 Moronic Political Debates (Part 2, 5-1)

Part 1 of my ‘Top 10 Moronic Political Debates’ can be found here.  The following are the top moronic debates:

(5) Black Lives Matter (BLM) v. All Lives Matter (ALM)

After a series of high profile, highly publicized instances of black men being murdered by police officers, the slogan “Black Lives Matter” has risen to such prominence that it has developed into an international movement, and rightly so. BLM’s problem is marketing. By choosing a slogan that focuses on race, they’ve redirected the narrative away from the issue of police brutality and toward the issue of racism in general. There are people out there who miss the point of BLM’s message, and instead focus on the slogan itself, unable to determine if the slogan means “black lives matter too” or “only black lives matter.” The sad fact that some interpret the slogan to mean the latter has spawned the counter ALM movement. Now the two are becoming diametrically opposed, and the debate is shifting from BLM’s original message.

Both sides are missing the point. Of course black lives matter. Of course all lives matter. Virtually no one would reply in the negative when asked, “Do black lives matter?” Or, “Do all lives matter?” Darren Wilson could be asked the former question, and would likely respond in the affirmative. Both sides need to move beyond the moronic racial argument, and return to the original issue of police brutality. It’s fine to say that black lives matter or all lives matter, but ok – we all agree with both statements, now what? Demanding accountability for killer cops must be the focus of this very real problem.

(4) Healthcare

Maintain the status quo or move to a fully socialized single-payer system. The status quo is awful as most already know; costs continue to rise, quality continues to decline, and anyone who deals with the medical field knows that something is very wrong. The problems with the status quo are continually getting worse as additional state interventions into the field compile. A single payer system would compound these problems and create new ones. One need not look further than the military’s VA medical system to see the problems of single-payer. Looking at countries that have implemented single payer systems we see the same problems that plague the VA; long wait times, rationing of care, limited availability of doctors, etc.

Both sides have blinders on. There is a clear third way that has been proven to work historically, and still is finding ways to work today even in spite of all the associated government regulation and control. This third way is freedom. All barriers between the patient and the care provider must be eliminated. The market’s price and profit/loss systems must be allowed to perform the tasks that they perform best – directing resources to where they are most desired in the way that is most efficient and satisfactory to the end user, the patient.

(3) Climate Change & Environmental Issues

Global warming is real, man-made, and government intervention through regulation is the only way to solve the problem. That’s one extreme of this argument. The other extreme are those who have zero concern for the environment, and who characterize the global warming narrative as a big conspiracy. Like the vaccine argument, both sides have facts, statistics and reports that they’ll use to bolster their position. Similarly, both sides are quick to dismiss the numbers presented by the other side. Both sides throw out ridiculous “facts” that shouldn’t be taken seriously by any rational person. 97% of all scientists agree that climate change is man-made, and government regulations is the answer? Please. The climate is not changing at all? Please.

Both sides miss the point. Whichever side you fall on, this is simply a property rights issue. Environmental pollution and smog causing emissions is best dealt with by a strict adherence to property rights. No person or company has a right to pollute another person’s land including the air above that land. If property rights were respected, property owners could sue the polluters for damage of property. With so much of the world’s land, water, and air being owned by governments, there is a tragedy of the commons problem that doesn’t allow the principals of property rights to protect those spaces. Growing up near Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, NY provided a first-hand view of this type of tragedy. Tons upon tons of chemicals were dumped into the lake by a nearby company, and there was no protection against this as governments are always either slow to react or receiving handouts from the polluting companies to look the other way. Had a homeowners association, fisherman’s association, or some other group been able to have ownership of the lake, they would have reacted immediately to protect their property.

(2) Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life

Far and away the most heated of the political debates. Both sides are unwavering in their belief of being correct, and are just as unwavering in their belief that the other side contains nothing but hate. A woman should have the right to choose at all times what takes place within her body. The termination of an unborn life is murder. We’ve all heard both sides countless times, and it never ends. This issue is so intense that the term ‘single-issue voter’ stems directly from it.

Both sides fail to see the simple facts. This is a debate that will never be won by either side so long as both believe that the only solution is a one size fits all solution. Instead of this type of issue being decided on a national level such that all 330 million Americans must abide by it, the issue should be left to states or (better yet) local jurisdiction. Neither side would be fully content, but both sides would have won. Pro-Life advocates would surely carve out states and localities where their beliefs would reign, and Pro-Choice advocates would do the same. At that point, people could vote with their feet – the most effective form of voting.

(1) Republicans vs. Democrats

Liberal or conservative? Left or right? Red or blue? The primary debate that is had within America is far and away the most moronic. Both sides believe that if only their guy was in charge then everything would be better. All that is needed is the right people wielding power. Name-calling and demonization of opponents of either side is rampant. Those stuck in this two sided box are unwilling or unable to see the possibilities awaiting outside of the box.

Both sides fail to see the bigger picture. History shows that one political party is exactly the same as the other political party, and only differ in rhetoric while remaining identical in deed. Both take for granted the idea that a person or group of people have some kind of legitimate moral right to rule over and control the lives of others. What right does 51% have to boss around 49%? How does winning a popularity contest grant the moral authority to act in ways that a normal person would be convicted of criminal activity for? Taxation is no different than theft. Conscription is no different than kidnapping. War is no different than mass murder. Quantitative easing is no different than counterfeiting. The sooner that civilization realizes that ultimate sovereignty must reside with the individual and not the state, the better off all of humanity will be.