My last post–The Supreme Court on Obamacare–generated an interesting three-way conversation involving Aliza, GB77 and Arthur W. Allow me to follow-up, but pardon me if I get too philosophical…I still hold to my original contention; Obamacare is really about wealth redistribution. But there are two deeper questions that must be answered.
Is one born with a “right to healthcare” regardless of one’s ability to pay for it? Most in favor of an Obamacare or a single-payer approach (in the long run these are one and the same) answer in the affirmative, which leads to a second question. Why? Most who answer yes to the previous question invoke a moral argument here. It just seems wrong that some people suffer with a physical ailment because they don’t have insurance or enough money to purchase treatment while others own big-screen TVs and take vacations. In a moral society, it seems like the rich should be able to pay “a little more” to provide healthcare for everyone. If you buy this line of reasoning, then you have two major quandaries.
First, why should the most productive in society be charged with paying for the healthcare needs of everyone else? Perhaps we should confiscate their wealth simply because they have it and we can. But even if you accept this gross violation of property rights, shouldn’t those in need to coverage be required to contribute all that they can before others in society are required to contribute? For example, what would be wrong with a law that prohibited anyone receiving government assistance for healthcare (or anything else, for that matter) from owning a smartphone, an air conditioner, or a car worth more than $2500? Should they be permitted to take a vacation or purchase cable TV while others are paying for their healthcare? If this sounds crass to you, then why are you more comfortable with requiring that someone else pay the bill instead?
Second, why should the rich only have to pay for other Americans without healthcare? Shouldn’t the child from Guatemala or the elderly lady from Thailand be entitled to the same level of care? It’s not their fault that they were born in another country. Needless to say, even massive taxation in the U.S.–across the upper, middle, and even working classes–would not be sufficient to provide everyone in the developing world with anything close to what we have come to expect as quality medical care.
My point here is simple. Healthcare requires tough choices, and simply demanding coverage for everyone because the idea sounds good ignores this reality. In the end, the only moral position is that individuals should be free to live their lives as they wish, but also limited to the healthcare they are willing and able to pay for. A caring society like ours always chips in with charity, but that should be left to the private sector. Wealth redistribution to pay for healthcare is theft and immoral by definition.