Not in My Backyard

Published May 1, 2002

Given the evidence presented in our series on England’s socialized medical system, it should not be difficult to question the merit and morality of duplicating such a flawed arrangement in the United States.

If there is any lesson we can learn from the beleaguered National Health Service (NHS) and the failure of single-payer health care, it must be that centralized planning and control never was a workable alternative to market pricing, private-sector innovation, and consumer rights.

Meet the Enemy

If you think proposals for single-payer health care in this country are just the harmless rantings of a few out-of-touch socialist thinkers, please read on and reconsider.

The unending pro-single-payer public relations campaign, produced by a well-funded and varied group of health care activists, does not disturb me from the standpoint of free speech. They have every right to say what they want to say.

Their rhetoric is troubling, however, because it is a deceitful attempt to impose the will of a self-anointed elite on the majority of Americans who, in my opinion, are mostly unaware of the enemy within.

A short list of Who’s Who in the push for socialized medicine includes the determined likes of the Universal Healthcare Action Network (UHCAN); Families USA – Health Action 2002; Physicians for a National Health Program; Greenpeace (!); Democratic Socialists of America;; the Labor Party; American Federation of Teachers – AFL-CIO; Center on Budget and Policy Priorities; Communications Workers of America; Children’s Defense Fund; Easter Seals; Consumers Union; Gray Panthers; Service Employees International Union – UAW; and the liberal-minded politicians who vote in lock-step for statist health care plans.

(For a growing list of co-sponsors of Health Action 2002, see

Seeking the Truth

The propaganda produced in support of single-payer health care ignores the truth and is designed to motivate people through the use of scare tactics; distorted and often fabricated information; and undocumented facts and figures on how much such a plan would cost in premiums, income taxes, lost state revenue, job dislocation, individual freedom, and human suffering. (See “Maryland Single-Payer Proposal Would Cost 117,000 Jobs, Shrink Payroll Tax Receipts by $4.89 Billion,” Health Care News, January 2002.)

No domestic advocate of socialized medicine has yet explained why they support a plan of medical care access that has been proven to fail daily in its promise to provide affordable quality medical care for everyone … the very goal they allegedly seek. Why do these health-care gurus ignore the irrefutable experiences from Britain, Canada, and other socialized systems?

No Bang for the Big Bucks

One lesson we can take from the British and Canadian experiences is that those with political clout, high social status, and sufficient personal wealth are assured of either getting the best care first, or buying their way out of government-run care entirely by going to a market-based health care system in another country … quite often the United States.

Another lesson is one of economics. The evidence demonstrates without doubt that socialized medicine is inefficient and more expensive than the free-market alternative. It produces an environment in which people think their care is free. The resulting moral hazards, unsustainable consumer expectations, and frivolous use of medical services are legendary.

England’s single-payer health care plan has turned into a tax burden far worse than what we’ve experienced to date in this country. The burgeoning costs—in the form of high income taxes, insurance taxes, premiums, lower wages, reduced productivity and job opportunities, plus extra fees and hidden taxation—have become a stranglehold on middle- and low-income consumers.

The government that controls health care controls everything. What control might the government exercise over a citizen who disagrees with the ruling powers and their line of thinking? Will he or she simply be denied or rationed care necessary to stay alive and active? This is not merely a hypothetical question: It has happened in other countries and, if the proponents of socialized medicine remain unchallenged by those of us who see the danger, it can happen again … right here in our own backyard.

Not Perfect, Only the Best

Our health care freedoms must be cherished as highly as all the other liberties defended explicitly by our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

This is not to suggest our current system is perfect. Health Care News regularly covers many of its faults, and we’ll continue to do so. We also offer suggestions for workable reform, within the context of protecting and enhancing the competition and consumer choice that make our system better than the rest.

Medical savings account (MSAs), defined contribution health plans, tax credits, Medicare and Medicaid reform, and tax-favored long-term care insurance—reforms that receive constant attention in Health Care News—all serve to reduce government influence, protect our privacy, empower the consumer, restore the patient-doctor relationship, and bring us closer to an American brand of universal health care.

If we settle for anything less, someday, someone, somewhere will write a column describing our health care system as the clone of the NHS. And he won’t mean that as a compliment.