“Say what you like about Mussolini, he made the trains run on time.” That is a famous assertion that, despite the obvious evils of fascism, at least authoritarian government gets things done. In reality, however, not only was authoritarianism bad, it also didn’t make the trains or the economy run any better.
The same argument has been and is being forwarded in support of authoritarian forms of healthcare administration in America. Healthcare in the United States has been getting more and more expensive, and insurance to cover the costs has been getting more and more unaffordable. The main idea is that we need to have government get involved to make it all work. What that necessarily means is that government power will have to be wielded to bring order to the chaotic markets and to control the profiteering of private businesses. In other words, authoritarianism.
Many proponents of healthcare reform are quick to point out that they don’t want government to run healthcare, they only want it to pay for such care, as in a single-payer program. Those payments, however, will be controlled, inevitably, by politics, and whoever controls the purse strings controls the system. It is, ultimately, government-controlled health care.
The Utopian dreamers promote the benefits of such a system as providing access to the best healthcare to everyone, regardless of financial resources. Physicians for A National Health Program, an organization of physicians, health professionals, medical students, and “activists,” has been promoting the idea for years, with their website boasting that their program would “fully cover medical care for all Americans, while lowering costs by eliminating the profit-driven private insurance industry with its massive overhead,” and “the rate of medical inflation would slow, freeing up resources for unmet medical and public health needs.” It is the same claptrap that is always promised when politicians promote their schemes. From the materials they present, it is clear that they are, first and foremost, politicians and activists, not physicians, regardless of their professional status.
The promoters of universal healthcare or single-payer systems like to blame free markets and those nasty-old profit-making corporations for all of the problems that Americans experience, but the reality for decades is that there has been less and less market and more and more politics. From certificates of need, to mandated insurance benefits, and everything in between, the government has had a very heavy hand in the industry. Failure after failure in government central planning of the health industry only means, for them, that we need more central planning.
Better health and cost statistics are typically trotted out to justify European-style systems here in America. Things are not as rosy there as they are made to appear, however. As a for-instance, gross longevity figures don’t take into consideration radical cultural differences, such has higher automobile and suicide deaths in America or lifestyle issues leading to chronic illness, all of which are not caused by or preventable by the healthcare system. Live-birth statistics are not standardized, leading to skewed results, and other such things distort comparisons. Access to the best medical care on a timely basis is typically not available to anyone outside of elite circles, and rationing certainly does happen. More importantly, European people seem to be much more tolerant of authoritarian bullying by bureaucrats. That is leading them down a dangerous path.
America does not want to follow that trend. Europe is headed in the wrong direction. America has a heritage based on individual liberty and not bureaucratic authoritarianism. America is different and should be different. What we need is to get rid of the arrogant, elitist central-planners who have been wrecking our system, and let the markets actually work.