The laws of economics are immutable. No matter how much you wish it to be otherwise, there is no such thing as free healthcare. The piper will be paid.
As the man said: You won’t know how much health care really costs until its free. They are learning this in the UK.
Single Payer is Doomed Before It Starts
From American Thinker: By Ted Noel, M.D., February 9, 2018
Donald Trump tweeted that Britain’s National Health Service is “broke and not working.” All too true: expenses have forced 40% of walk-in health centers to close, all elective surgery in January to be cancelled, and primary care has been decimated, it’s not surprising that problems have surfaced. It is just as predictable that the usual call for “more money” echoes around the UK. All this is the result of economic laws that have been completely ignored since the days of Aneurin Bevan, the father of the UK NHS.
The first is the Law of Rationing. In short, “Everything is rationed, either by price or by rule.” I can’t afford a private jet. Price rationing limits those to people of substantial wealth, and their high price acts as a signal in the market to balance the supply of private jets with the market of willing buyers.
But suppose that the government declared that private jets were free. Everyone would want one. Suddenly there would be a shortage of hangars and runway space. And to pay for the jets, taxes on workers would rise, because the workers who build private jets have to get paid. The unintended consequences are mind-blowing. Ultimately, the government would have to start limiting who could have private jets. First, they would require a pilot’s license. Then, more secure hangars would be required. Finally, you’d have to prove that you really, really need a private jet.
Substitute “Free Health Care” for “Private Jets” and you get the picture. Nothing is free. As the protagonist in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress notes,
- “Gospodin,” he said presently, “you used an odd word earlier — odd to me, I mean…”
“Oh, ‘tanstaafl.’ Means ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’ And isn’t,” I added, pointing to a FREE LUNCH sign across room, “or these drinks would cost half as much. Was reminding her that anything free costs twice as much in long run or turns out worthless.”
“An interesting philosophy.”
“Not philosophy, fact. One way or other, what you get, you pay for.”
Or, as the mechanic in the Fram oil filter ad says, “You can pay me now, or pay me later.” You pay either way. Unfortunately, if you try to be cheap by legislating “free” health care now, you’ll pay dearly later. Health care that was rationed by price will become rationed by rules that make it less and less available.
In England, this process is reaching a tipping point. A couple of years ago people were waiting many hours in the Emergency Department just to be seen by a doctor. So the NHS ruled in 2004 that 95% of all patients would be seen within four hours of arrival. In order to avoid breaking the rule, Emergency Departments refused to allow ambulances to unload their patients until the ED could meet the time standard. So patients were stuck in ambulances outside the ED door, and there weren’t enough ambulances left to answer calls. Now the rule has been scrapped. Predictably, the left-wing members of Parliament are calling for more money. And that brings us to the second law.
The Law of Subsidy says that “When you subsidize something, you get more of it and it gets more expensive.” In England, this happened a bit more slowly than in the U.S. It may be that the older generations of Britons were a bit more “proper” than us Yanks, and so tended to rely less on the dole than current generations. This slowed the growth of the NHS but did not change the ultimate outcome.