If you asked a large randomly selected group of Americans whether medical care was a right many, perhaps most, would say yes. Analyze what such a right entails. If Mr Smith has a right to medical care but can’t afford to pay for it then Mr Green must. It’s a zero sum game. Smith consumes 100 medical units, Green provides it – 100 minus 100 equals zero. Green, even if he doesn’t want to, must pay or the government will confiscate his wealth or his liberty or both. Basically a “right” to medical care is a right to take away someone else’s property without his consent. You earn the money, I’ll spend it. It hides under the cloak of Social Justice. And eventually this “right” turns out to be worse than a zero sum game. Costs rise for all and service becomes scarcer.

What people have a right to is to purchase medical care (or anything else) under conditions that are the same for everyone. True rights do not sum to zero. Their exercise does not impinge on the liberty or property of someone else. For a detailed exegesis of this subject see George Reisman’s article The Real Right to Medical Care versus Socialized Medicine. Written in 1994 in response to the Clintons attempt to pass a national healthcare law the essay is still pertinent to the current administration’s attempt to enact similar legislation. Though more than 30 pages long, it’s well worth a careful read. It clearly explains why medical care is so expensive and why the government is responsible for its high cost and how a national healthcare law will result in both higher costs and less medical care, ie rationing.

Effective reform of medical care requires knowledge the public or the press usually does not possess as well as a political will that is not characteristic of most Western societies. No Western society has effectively dealt with this problem. The Swiss are often cited as having solved the problem of universal medical coverage, but they are bedeviled with run away costs as is everyone. Nevertheless, their system is worth study.

The Swiss Healthcare System (2002)