Medical care doesn’t grow on trees. It must be produced by human and physical capital, and those resources are limited. Therefore, if demand for health care services increases—which is Obama’s point in extending health insurance—prices must go up. But somehow Obama also promises, “I won’t sign a bill that doesn’t reduce health care inflation.”
This is magical thinking. Obama, talented as he is, can’t repeal the laws of supply and demand. Costs are real. If they are incurred, someone has to pay them. But as economist Thomas Sowell points out, politicians can control costs—by refusing to pay for the services.
It’s called rationing.
Advocates of nationalization hate that word because it forces them to face an ugly truth. If government pays for more people’s health care and wants to control costs, it must limit what we buy.
So much for Obama’s promise not to interfere with our freedom of choice.
This brings us back to end-of-life consultation. As the government’s health care budget becomes strained, as it must—and, as Obama admits, already is under Medicare—the government will have to cut back on what it lets people have.
So it is not a leap to foresee government limiting health care, especially to people nearing the end of life. Medical “ethicists” have long lamented that too much money is spent futilely in the last several months of life. Are we supposed to believe that the social engineers haven’t read their writings?
And given the premise that it’s government’s job to pay for our heath care, concluding that 80-year-olds should get no hip replacements makes sense. The problem is the premise: that taxpayers should pay. Once you accept that, bad things follow.
In the end, perhaps the biggest objection to nationalized health care is the “principal-agent problem.” For whom does the doctor work? Ordinarily, the doctor is the agent of the patient. But when government signs the checks and orders doctors to reduce spending, it is not crazy to think that this won’t influence their “advance care planning consultation.”