Everybody in a country with “universal health care” has a “right” to health care, but Americans do not—or so it is argued. “Health care reform” is supposed to correct a moral deficiency in the United States, and, at long last, grant a fundamental human right to Americans.
At present, Americans who have purchased insurance have a contractual right, enforceable in court, to whatever benefits are agreed to in the contract. Federal law entitles them to a screening examination and stabilization if they present to an emergency facility, even if they have no ability to pay—and the hospital and on-call physicians are obligated by law to provide the service.
In an American hospital, women in labor will be delivered; patients with a surgical emergency will have an operation; and patients with a life-threatening medical emergency will be admitted. But later, the hospital will try to collect payment. Americans have no right to receive medical services at taxpayer expense. Those enrolled in Medicare, Medicaid, or other government program have an entitlement to certain benefits, determined by politicians and bureaucrats. About half of U.S. medical expenditures are made by government through such programs.
How is the situation different under “universal health care”?
In Canada, patients are entitled to treatment only after they present their insurance card. If they lack a card, say because they are homeless and haven’t signed up for the program, treatment will be denied.
One man in Quebec forgot his card at home, and was denied care, even though his name was in their computer. No card, no service. When he went home to get the card, his appendix ruptured, and by the time the ambulance arrived, he was dead. At age 21. As Mark Steyn writes, “He didn’t make it to 22 because he accepted the right of a government bureaucrat to deny him medical treatment for which he and his family have been confiscatorially taxed all their lives.”
Under “universal health care,” one has no right to care that is timely, convenient, or state-of-the-art. Under a “single payer” (government-payer-only) system, one has no right to pay extra to allow the operating room, imaging center, or clinic to stay open longer—even though this would decrease the waiting time for everyone, including those who could not afford to pay more. One has the right to receive only the services that “society” (politicians and bureaucrats) has decided to make available.
Most nations of the world have a private sector that relieves some of the strain on the public system, though people who receive private services have paid twice for medical care—once for the public services that they do not use, and again for the care they do receive. Canada and North Korea have a single payer; Canadians have the right to pay twice if they go abroad for treatment.
Rights that Americans would lose under proposed reforms include: the right to buy true insurance, for which premiums are based on risk; the right to decline to buy a plan they don’t want; the right to self insure; the right to reap the benefits of healthful living, hard work, and prudent spending; and the right to keep their medical records confidential. If the reforms evolve into a single payer, as many advocates intend, Americans would lose the liberty to use their own property to prolong or enhance their own lives.
Obligations that reform would impose on Americans include: continually proving that they had paid for coverage that the federal government deems acceptable; paying what the government deems to be their “fair share” for insuring persons below a certain income threshold; paying for procedures they deem to be harmful or immoral if coverage is mandated by government; and paying for expanded, costly bureaucracy.
America’s extraordinary prosperity and technological progress occurred in an atmosphere of freedom. The losses resulting from a central chokehold on innovation are incalculable. Advocates of reform often attribute the high cost of American medicine to new drugs, devices, and procedures, and want still-heavier regulation to restrain these advances. Both Americans and the result of the world’s peoples will lose if America is no longer the engine of progress.
Americans are being asked to exchange their birthright of freedom for—politicians’ promises. And to trade their natural, God-given rights to life, liberty, and property for government-granted privileges or entitlements.
If you have to show a card that proves you are eligible to receive a certain service in a certain facility, you do not have a right, only a privilege. A privilege that can be revoked by bureaucrats calculating the gains and losses to “society” from your treatment.
People have come to trust their government entitlement programs, just as they once trusted Bernie Madoff. However, Americans have no constitutional or contractual right to their Social Security benefits, for which they have been taxed all their lives. This was established decades ago by the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of a man who was deported for being a Communist after paying Social Security taxes for 19 years. In upholding the 1954 law that revoked the Social Security privilege for such persons, the Court cited the necessity of Section 1104 of the 1935 Act, entitled “Reservation of Power,” reads: “The right to alter, amend, or repeal any provision of this Act is hereby reserved to Congress.”
The Court ruled: “To engraft upon the Social Security system a concept of accrued property rights would deprive it of the flexibility and boldness in adjustment to ever- changing conditions which it demands….” (AAPS News, August 2008). Remember that Medicare is part of the Social Security Act.
Fundamental rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution must be abridged to grant a “right” to taxpayer-funded medical treatment. The tradeoff is of true rights for what is actually a privilege or entitlement.
What the government gives, the government can take away. And of course, whatever it gives was first taken from someone.