Paul Ryan, Medicare and the Undiscovered Alternative for Medicine

Mitt Romney’s selection of Representative Paul Ryan as his running mate will likely trigger debate about privatization of Medicare. Ryan did not actually propose privatization; he has proposed a voucher system for future retirees, in which the federal government pays them to purchase medical plans in the marketplace. A voucher system is not privatization, but Ryan’s opponents will label it such because they consider privatization a bad thing.

Actually, privatization is the only moral and economic way to resolve the continuing problems with health care. At present, the government forces people to contribute payroll taxes throughout their lives so they can have a single-payer government policy (i.e., Medicare) when they retire.

The alternative would be simply to let people keep all of their income and accept responsibility for purchasing their own health insurance. It’s too late to do this for the current elderly, of course, but it should be the case with generations going forward. 

Although the voucher system is not the answer, it’s to Ryan’s credit that he at least recognizes the need to go in the direction of a free market in medicine, even for the elderly.

Advocates of Medicare only see a world in which Medicare exists. ‘If you take away Medicare, seniors will have nothing,’ they claim.

Not true. For one thing, taking away Medicare for the next generation will put people currently in their 20s, 30s and 40s on notice that they have to buy their own health insurance. Imagine the innovation and competition created by such a massive amount of demand.

There’s no way to describe what such a vast marketplace would look like, but there’s no question there would be a marketplace if the government completely deregulated the industry and just got out of the way. It would make the private economy more robust, and create thousands if not millions of new jobs.

A free market in medicine, including the repeal of Obamacare, would save the government trillions of dollars. It would reduce taxes and regulations on business, helping the economy start to grow again and perhaps end the recession.

Human beings have a right to self-responsibility. You don’t normally hear it put that way, but it’s true. Human beings survive through the use of their minds, i.e. through the use of their conceptual, thinking faculty. When government regulates, subsidizes, manipulates or monopolizes important areas of life—such as health care—the capacity to exercise that thought, self-determination and self-responsibility evaporates. In economic terms, the free market becomes hampered and dysfunctional along with that hampering of the human mind.

Proof of this? Simply look at the areas government has most controlled: The postal system, health insurance, public schools. None of these areas achieve what anyone considers satisfying results, yet we keep throwing more money at the problem while expecting different results.

This is the core of what’s wrong about government control of health care, not to mention other areas of life. Privatizing Medicare does not mean ‘taking away’ a right. You can’t take away a right that didn’t exist in the first place. There is no right to health care, any more than there’s a right to happiness. It’s the pursuit of happiness, including the pursuit of medical care in a free, self-responsible marketplace, that’s a right. This is the right being denied.

Opponents of Obamacare must be prepared to go all the way. They must be prepared to acknowledge that Medicare was an expensive mistake, and because of that mistake a perceived need for ‘reform’ came about. Medicare was passed in the 1960s to provide a superior alternative to the marketplace. It didn’t happen, which is why the push for ‘health care reform’ came about starting in the 1980s, and culminating with the passage of Obamacare.

Obamacare is not change. It’s more of the same—only worse. The undiscovered alternative still awaits us: It’s called freedom in medicine.

Why are opponents of a free market in medicine so vocal, and so intolerant of even mentioning an alternative? What frightens and angers them so much about it? What might they be revealing about themselves by exhibiting such hostility?

People have a right to shop for medical and insurance alternatives just as they have a right to shop for other things. Freedom for doctors and patient-consumers is desperately needed for the human capacity of thought to be maximized by everyone involved. This is why Obamacare should be repealed, and why Medicare should be privatized.


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