Somebody Has To Ration Health Care. Should It Be You Or Government?

Somebody Has To Ration Health Care. Should It Be You Or Government?

Obamacare was passed on a Sunday. I was a graduate fellow at The Heritage Foundation, and my department met with our health-care experts on Mondays. Numerous people sat with their heads in their hands as they pondered what had just unfolded.

The American people were against Obamacare, so much so that Massachusetts had just elected Scott Brown to “Ted Kennedy’s seat” in the Senate. The critiques of Obamacare were manifold and manifestly potent. Rep. Paul Ryan tore the bill apart in economic terms. It just didn’t add up. Sarah Palin used the much derided phrase “death panels,” but her vivid terms were also accurate.

When institutions or economic alternatives have government backing, they tend to depress competition or force private institutions to alter their standards (just ask Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac). No one can compete with the government. Private insurers are dropping like flies around the country, but government-based alternatives seem to be doing just fine.

Yet there is a separate price to pay when we rely upon government for health care. Money is a reflection of morality. Every economic choice you make reflects your deepest beliefs. That is the beauty of economics—through the study of economics we learn about people.

Health care stands at the heart of economics. It drives painfully deep into our individual consciences. Are you willing to invest your life savings into the dim prospects of a future for an elderly parent or terminally ill child? When you forfeit this choice and allow the government to make it for you, you end up with Charlie Gard.

Hence, the death panels. Universal health care is an oxymoron. We will never be able to offer universal health care because we are all dying, bit by bit. Thus, the demand for health care will always be universal and the supply to meet that need will never be sufficient. Universal health care promises utopia but ends up with death panels.

We can’t meet every health need because every single person in this world is deteriorating. Someone must make decision about when health care is worthwhile and when it is not. When the government makes this decision, it tends to favor the young and healthy over the elderly and sickly. This will always be the case because economic resources, like health care, are finite. Either we ration ourselves, or others ration for us.

This is really the inherent flaw of Obamacare and anything that disguises itself as a “variant” but will ultimately trump all private competition and form an economic and moral monopoly. We can debate all we want about an individual mandate and pre-existing conditions, but the real zenith of this battle centers around the question of moral responsibility. Do I get in say in the well-being of my loved ones, or will the government have the sole, and final, vote?

It appears that Obamacare will not be repealed by a Republican Congress and president, despite the promises. This is not a loss for the GOP. It is a loss for those who cherish economic freedom, and through it, moral freedom.

Mr. Roberts is a writer and a chaplain in the U.S. Army. His views are his own.
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