Special Election Edition: Inefficiency in Obamacare

There’s a popular notion among students today that healthcare is a fundamental human right. Isn’t it? We have a right to life, so by extension, don’t we also have a right to receive free medical care? “Not really,” say Libertarians. People also have property rights and these are even more fundamental than claims to medical care, medical supplies or the tax dollars to buy them. While seeing someone unable to afford a certain medical treatment can be heart-wrenching, the reality is that a system of free universal healthcare will not be able to provide equal access to such treatments either.  Socialized medicine is by no means sustainable, as it corrupts the most positive of market forces that have precipitated all advancements in healthcare: the free choice of patients and healthcare providers. 

This corruption of free choice is precisely why Obamacare has been failing so dramatically since its passage in 2010. Citizens whose insurance is paid for via the Affordable Care Act are confined to shop within specific healthcare exchanges. The insurance companies that service these exchanges understand that the citizens’ options are limited and thus have no incentive to compete with other providers on quality or cost. Other high-quality insurers such as Aetna and UnitedHealth have withdrawn from these exchanges as their commissions were so low. The few insurers remaining in the exchanges have begun charging premiums for better service, compromising any semblance of “affordability” for enrollees. Fortuitously, when people have their taxes prorated by the cost of healthcare spending (as they might with a repeal of Obamacare), they give more money to medical charities and hospitals, the private organizations most effective at researching newer, cheaper and more effective cures.  

In addition to compromised competition, the American healthcare system is beset by onerous healthcare regulations. Libertarians are leading the way to lessen the burden of these rules, such as the FDA approval, which balloons the costs of treatments and ensures that patients choose between illness and debt. Some would fear that with less regulation on healthcare there would be more fraud and patient-abuse. This is untrue. Absent a government regulatory body, patients demand greater transparency from the medical industry and the market of information on medical treatments will prevail. Markets of product information and consumer feedback already are robust in other markets such as online shopping, models that healthcare can follow.  

Gary Johnson is the only candidate who affirms the view that government price control and regulation pervert healthcare markets to the point of failure. Unfortunately, this nuanced view of healthcare has yet to be adopted by Trump or Clinton. Both still support the current inefficient systems of Medicare and Medicaid. Student proponents of universal healthcare should not view Johnson as cold-hearted but rather as a liberator from poor quality, high cost drugs that come via the policies of the major parties and as a fighter for the maximum possible medical welfare of our society.