Health Care as a Measure of Liberty

The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has traversed a rocky road in its short tenure.  Since the law’s passage in 2010, everything from website crashes, huge yearly increases in plan premiums, and insurers fleeing the program, have bedeviled President Obama’s signature domestic legislation.

The law’s supporters, led by Hillary Clinton, have proposed some reforms, and have even pushed for a “public option” which translates into a government-run health insurance plan that would compete with private insurers. They claim that as long as for-profit, private companies are involved in health insurance, and health care delivery, costs will remain high, and millions of Americans will be unable to afford coverage. But, instead of calculating dollars and cents, or arguing co-pays, deductibles, and premiums, let’s consider another cost, one that’s a little more abstract.

When government assumes the role of provider, what happens to liberty? Once government determines basic decisions for each individual, are we still a free people? How does the proposition of the nation’s founding, “that the state can only govern with the consent of the governed,” survive, when unelected bureaucrats,  like the head of the Department of Health & Human Services, hold reign over your very existence? What happens when your needs as an individual clash with the rules and regulations deemed the standard for all? Is an accomodation to your unique situation made, or are you told to “just take a pain pill”?

We’re told that these bureacrats and administrators are experts in their field, far more knowledgeable than the average citizen on matters related to the complexity of health care. But who speaks for the individual, the square peg about to be pounded into the round hole? If the approved treatment for your illness or injury doesn’t work in your case, will there be an exception made for your individual needs? Or do you just become the exception that proves the rule?

Don’t we have enough control exerted over our lives, already? Don’t our elected representatives exempt themselves from the same restrictions they place on us? We are told when, how, and where we can obtain coverage and care. There are restrictions on the doctors we can see, the hospitals that we can visit, and the medicines we have access to.  We rarely know the true cost of our care, or the value of the health care dollars we spend.

When we file our taxes each year, we have to prove to the Internal Revenue Service that we have insurance coverage. We’re promised free, preventive care, but one question asked of the doctor can turn our freebie into just another out-of-pocket expense. And through the wonder of some 2400 pages of legislative mumbo-jumbo, most of the millions of  newly insured Americans owe their Obamacare coverage to the simple expansion of Medicaid, an already existing welfare program.

Do we really need to go further down this road of limited choices and unlimited regulation? Why not limited regulation and unlimited choices? Why can’t the same free market forces that provide us a dizzying choice of everything from cars to telephones to breakfast cereals, provide us with options in health insurance and health care? How about less government control, and more freedom? Whose life is it, anyway?

Raymond T Kyle

Copyright 2016       Kyle Policy Partners