Returning to a Free Market in Healthcare

In his latest column Ron Paul points out that a mandatory nationalized healthcare system is bad for many reasons: It will eliminate any alternatives, thereby destroying the incentive for providers to offer a competitive service, and it will lead to increased bureaucracy, unnecessary waste, and inevitable rationing. However, the current system is not perfect either, which is why we should return to a true free market in healthcare — one that empowers the people and their doctors, not bureaucrats and demagogues.

Healthcare is a Good, Not a Right

by Ron Paul

Political philosopher Richard Weaver famously and correctly stated that ideas have consequences. Take for example ideas about rights versus goods. Natural law states that people have rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. A good is something you work for and earn. It might be a need, like food, but more “goods” seem to be becoming “rights” in our culture, and this has troubling consequences. It might seem harmless enough to decide that people have a right to things like education, employment, housing or healthcare. But if we look a little further into the consequences, we can see that the workings of the community and economy are thrown wildly off balance when people accept those ideas.

First of all, other people must pay for things like healthcare. Those people have bills to pay and families to support, just as you do. If there is a “right” to healthcare, you must force the providers of those goods, or others, to serve you.

Obviously, if healthcare providers were suddenly considered outright slaves to healthcare consumers, our medical schools would quickly empty. As the government continues to convince us that healthcare is a right instead of a good, it also very generously agrees to step in as middle man. Politicians can be very good at making it sound as if healthcare will be free for everybody. Nothing could be further from the truth. The administration doesn’t want you to think too much about how hospitals will be funded, or how you will somehow get something for nothing in the healthcare arena. We are asked to just trust the politicians. Somehow it will all work out.

Universal Healthcare never quite works out the way the people are led to believe before implementing it. Citizens in countries with nationalized healthcare never would have accepted this system had they known upfront about the rationing of care and the long lines.

As bureaucrats take over medicine, costs go up and quality goes down because doctors spend more and more of their time on paperwork and less time helping patients. As costs skyrocket, as they always do when inefficient bureaucrats take the reins, government will need to confiscate more and more money from an already foundering economy to somehow pay the bills. As we have seen many times, the more money and power that government has, the more power it will abuse. The frightening aspect of all this is that cutting costs, which they will inevitably do, could very well mean denying vital services. And since participation will be mandatory, no legal alternatives will be available.

The government will be paying the bills, forcing doctors and hospitals to dance more and more to the government’s tune. Having to subject our health to this bureaucratic insanity and mismanagement is possibly the biggest danger we face. The great irony is that in turning the good of healthcare into a right, your life and liberty are put in jeopardy.

Instead of further removing healthcare from the market, we should return to a true free market in healthcare, one that empowers individuals, not bureaucrats, with control of healthcare dollars. My bill HR 1495 the Comprehensive Healthcare Reform Act provides tax credits and medical savings accounts designed to do just that.


  • Hey this is a very interesting article!

  • E Perez Jones


    1- Health as a personal issue may be similar to a ‘good’, but patients (an ill person) CAN NOT be considered a client of a bussiness. Because that would change the mission of the health care sector.

    *** Are we there?

    *** people dying from serious illnesses are loosing their right to life (why so many?) so there is the indirect association for the public outcry.

    2- If the People are to contribute to the health system discussion effectively, I think we need to know:

    What exactly is this system, how many sectors, how many people (please include the first step in the chain, basic research), how much money goes in it from private sector and from tax payers, how many jobs it provides, AND the results per sector.

    *** the PEOPLE have never cared to know and WE should.

    3- A very important question to ask is why do we have so many sick people?

    *** we need real numbers compared to other health systems, then make a fast decision tailored to USA. Globalization and some free market is good but WE still need to be part of a country, or shall we start picking services throughout the globe, erase borders and have no country names, and start having global elections and constitutions?

    3- How come is it that most people shown on internet and all this campaigns look sooo very healthy, bust most people you encounter every day, even among the wealthiest town in USA, look soooo run down and wild???

    *** which one is real is important to answer before the correct decisions can be made and no precious money and resources are wasted.

    *** Start by creating millions of jobs and the numbers of real illnesses will become clear.

    I believe the health care system should be a strong pilar of society, in terms of REAL health and SOLID economics since it contributes a fixed minimum of essential jobs.

    We NEED A REAL WORLD, please.

  • VR
  • VR

    Stand Up or Shut Up

    • Christine

      Thanks for the link. I put it in an email to pass around. That massive, complex chart of the Obama Care Plan is a great visual to use ….Educate America!

  • Lawrence Beattie


  • Lawrence B Beattie

    If health care was a true free enterprise system the cost would be controlled by the markets and there would be coverage for just about every person. It is highly regulated, does not support alternative medicine (government regulators influenced by helth care industry), sells the same medicine for less cost in other countries, does not allow a worldwide open market for US consumers (again, by government regulations), and has no incentives for cost control because there is little or no competition.

  • Christine

    With the financial failures of government run programs… medicare, medicaid and social security all on their resume, it amazes me to think that anyone would trust and hire the government to run yet another program, an insurance program covering our health. They cannot ensure to insure. They have already exceeded the “third time it’s a charm” rule.

    The government does not need to use health care insurance and us as yet another revenue stream for more wild spending or to further its control over the people.

    We need the actual cost of the goods and services provided by health care professionals to be affordable. Health care costs and health care insurance are two different things. One is the middleman.

    Allow the people to have a sound economy, freedom and affordability and they will happily take care of themselves.

  • DC Palmer

    I understand Congressman Paul here. Health care is a good, like any other good, no different than a cabbage, or a bowling ball. There is no right to cabbages or bowling balls. If someone is sick and has no money, let them die. I do not agree with it, but I understand it.

    • crazykitkat

      What if that someone is a child? Why should the child suffer because of the sins of his/her parent’s?

  • Larry

    I think the argument of good vs right is well-constructed, but falls short. I’m personally sick of the scare tactics that health care will be rationed, long lines, lack of decisions by doctors, etc if government gets into health care business. Facts of health care in other countries tell a much different story. In my own case, Aetna (my company selected provider) who is highly motivated by their own profit to limit and delay payouts CREATE NO ADDED VALUE TO the health care process. We accept that national defense, roads, and even fire protection are somehow rights; but access to basic health care isn’t? Clearly, the system we have now is not acceptable. I’m not ready to say any system I’ve heard currently being proposed is any better; but can’t we at least have an honest discussion with real benchmarking results rather than the good vs evil drivel being doled out by both sides? We’re being completely cheated out of the debate that should be taking place which should be identifying the best & most cost effective system that exist today and finding ways to adopt and improve upon them.

  • jeff brooks

    no its not a right but government at some point or certain cituations should help uninsured americans needing and most of the time they get it,they might just use the er so what. but not insure them indefinatly its not a form of defense 3/4s of health care is a scam only under certain issues a person should need doctors,let a pill pushing doctors pump pills at tax payers expense,to make everybody else rich we good the pipe in the long run,theres no defense issue here certain situations one might need help,in my book there getting it now,the media hype scare tactics are common,now obamas lobbiest want things done now certainly the ones that dont take care of each other the defense is take care of yourself thats individuals responsability ther is nothing good about gov healthcare just another way to skim the big pot but hurry hurry hurry lets do it right now before anyone figures it out,i pray that the americans people wake the hell up and be real patriots and stand for something once they put something into fast forwand law impossable to undo them makes me sick how they just go around the constitution like its no big deal

  • Doug

    Here is what Demint had to say to the senate today -he posted it hours ago:
    Digest and Enjoy

  • Lancelot

    Can some one tell me philosophically why health care is a good and not a right? I personally believe health care should be completely privatized because more people will receive better quality care than under any government program. However Mr Paul believes national defense, and policemen should be payed for by tax payers. Which means Ron Paul believes defense of the citizen should be a right and not a good. Isn’t health care a form of defense for the citizen. Basically im saying we shouldn’t defend private health care in philosophical terms, rather we should simply show the people that more and better quality health care will occur under a system of freedom rather than government control. If we think long and hard about this, nothing is a right and everybody should be solely and completely responsible for themselves. At some point the line must be drawn and i think health care is a right but shouldn’t be government run.

    • Teresa

      It’s a constitutional right for the government to fund a national defense, see article 1 section 8. It is not a constitutional right for the government to provide healthcare for its citizens. In fact, we keep hearing about all this talk about health care and who should be paying for it, however, where is the personal responsibility? Personal responsibility has been pushed aside by the majority of our politicians. It’s a choice to eat that double cheeseburger that can cause you to suffer from heart disease over time. 67% of Americans are overweight and that is a choice, even if you have a genetic predisposition to being overweight, you still choose to eat unhealthy types and/or amounts of food.
      It’s a travesty for people to demand government sponsored health care when they are failing in the prevention of the leading causes of death. I’d much rather see the government step in tell you what to eat and force you to exercise versus creating a medical monopoly of dramatic proportions, crating shortages for services, further eroding the quality of life for the poor.

      • Craig

        are you serious? are you saying you want a “Nutrition Czar” to tell us to eat? do understand the concept of Liberty? a 500% tax on fast food would be more logical, akin to the taxes on alcohol & tobacco

        • Teresa

          Of course I do not advocate a ‘nutrition czar’, however, it makes more sense for the government to say what you can eat rather than pay for a bunch of health care we wouldn’t need if we made the proper decisions on our own. You completely misconstrued an idea that was a point to contrast how pathetic we, as a whole, eat. Our appetites are an illustration of how we cannot make the responsible choices that cause us to need health care. Your ‘nutrition czar’ is against the very liberty I rally. It was simply an example to show how we make poor choices then expect the government to financially bail us out. Economically, I’d much rather see a ‘nutrition czar’ before national health care because the results would be better for the country. Eating right would greatly reduce our overweight population which is what’s driving up the costs associated with health care. We’d be healthier and it would be less expensive to implement and maintain than a bureaucratic health care nightmare passed by our legislature. The universal health care is much more the enemy of liberty, for it will let the government chose who lives and who dies. I read an article yesterday where an Oregon man was told that the state would not cover the patient’s expensive treatment, but would pay for the cost of physician-assisted suicide [25 Jul 2009, Cato at Liberty blog].
          In response to your taxation, how would that solve the problem? These people would still be eating and drinking their bodies to the point of needing that universal health care. I am not advocating a nutrition czar, although you made it sound as though I am. Just because I can create an argument for something does not mean that I advocate it. There is no statistic out there that can prove my theory wouldn’t work, because it hasn’t been tried. Unfortunately, your taxation solution has yet to show an answer to any problem. And, taxation, as you might recall is the greatest act against LIBERTY possible. Remember, the Declaration of Independence was drafted because of Parliament’s taxation tactics towards the Colonies.