In my previous post, I examined the Liberal viewpoint which is strongly in favor of universal health care. In this post, I will discuss the Conservatives’ viewpoint which is strongly against universal health care. They fear that universal health care will lead to increased debt, taxes, a decrease in doctor’s pay and quality of medical treatment and ultimately to socialism.
First, Conservatives claim the purpose of the Constitution is to “promote the general welfare”, not provide it. According to Ben Shapiro, JD, Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Wire, “Medical care is a commodity, and treating it otherwise is foolhardy.” Shapiro contends that profit incentive and freedom of labor are required to make a commodity cheaper. The government destroys both of these elements in the health care industry. Shapiro claims the solution for poor people is, “not to declare medical care a right” and declares that “markets are the solution in medical care, just as they are in virtually every other area.” 1*
The Conservatives also fear that providing universal health care will increase U.S. debt and taxes. Then US House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan stated that government health care programs are, “driving the explosive growth in our spending and our debt”. Government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid have gone from 10% of the federal budget in 1985 to 21% of the federal budget in 2012. 1*
Another economic consideration is taxes. In European countries with universal health care policies, taxes have increased to compensate for wider coverage. For example, in the United Kingdom payroll taxes average 37%, which is much higher than the 15.3% payroll taxes paid by the average U.S. worker. According to the Hoover Institution, financing a universal right to health care in the U.S. would cause payroll taxes to double. 1*
Conservatives also believe that universal health care will result in a decrease in the quality of medical care. Universal health care usually results in a decrease in doctor’s pay, which often leads to a shortage of doctors and rationing of medical services. A 2002 study conducted by the British National Health Service found that the United Kingdom (which provides universal health care) was, “critically short of doctors and nurses.” In fact, as of 2013 the United Kingdom had 2.71 practicing doctors for every 1,000 people. That is the second lowest level of the 27 European nations. Conservatives believe the United States would be wise to learn from the United Kingdom’s mistake in providing universal health care. 1*
Universal health care could also lead to rationing of medical services. For example, countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom, all ration health care using methods such as controlled distribution, budgeting, price setting, and service restrictions. According to a 2009 Wall Street Journal editorial, “once health care is nationalized, or mostly nationalized, medical rationing is inevitable.” 1*
Perhaps Conservatives’ biggest fear is that universal health care will lead to socialism. According to U.S. Representative John Campbell, “A ‘right’ to services without charge, that forces someone else to provide for you, does not and should not ever exist. No one in a free society should have a ‘right’ to anything that requires others to toil against their will on behalf of those unwilling to provide for themselves.” In a Wall Street Journal article, John Mackey compares health care to food and shelter, stating that, “it is best provided through voluntary and mutually beneficial market exchanges.” 1
At the heart of most Conservative positions is the belief that smaller government is better. Conservatives believe that government provided universal health care is a huge and unnecessary increase in the size of government. Conservative Matt Canovi, President of the American Defense Academy Firearms Range and Training Facility, affirms that, “When the government starts declaring commodities to be a ‘human right’ they assume redistribution powers that are not afforded to them by the Constitution.” 1* Under a single-payer system, health care is paid for through taxes. This means people who work hard to pay those taxes are forced to subsidize health care for those who are not employed. People do have the right to purchase health care, but they don’t have the right to receive health care for free.
There is also a ‘moral hazard’ associated with universal health care. “When people are provided with universal health care and are not directly responsible for the costs of medical services, they may utilize more health resources than necessary…. Since Medicaid provides a right to health care for low-income individuals, expanding this right to the full U.S. population could worsen the problem of overusing health care resources.” 1*
In conclusion, Conservatives affirm that health care is not a right and that health care should never be given to people for free. They also claim universal health care will lead to an increase in U.S. debt and taxes and a decrease in the quality of medical care. Perhaps most importantly, Conservatives argue that universal health care is a big step down the slippery slope of socialism.