The Canada Health Act, the crown jewel of the CCF, and Liberal Party is the most characteristic attribute that comes to mind with any discussion of Canada. Some writers even say that the State-run healthcare has become part of Canadian cultural identity. It is not just that Canadians have forgotten that the market ever provided these services, they now identifyÂ personally with this collectivization of force. Universal health care is laudedÂ as the magic wand solution to providing health care to people, but this is simply not the case. Here a passageÂ that defends medicare on the grounds that opinion polls at the time of the Saskatawan passage overwhelmingly supported the measure.
â€œThe CCFÂ in particular helped initiate a number of social measures. Its most prominent contribution was in the field of health care. Despite arguments by the medical profession that doctor-controlled and private medical insurance were better than a national government health program, public opinion polls in 1944 and in 1949 showed that 80 percent of Canadians wanted a federal health plan that would cover complete medical and hospital care for a monthly flat rate.â€ [ref]â€œA Brief History of the Saskatchewan NDPâ€, History tab of Saskatchewan NDP website. [http://www.saskndp.com/history][/ref]
But the popularity ofÂ a measure, itself, is not a virtue.Â Wanting to partake in the plunder of another personâ€™s money and savings to bolster oneâ€™s own health is not compassion, it is theft. As BastiatÂ wrote, this is a system where everyone plunders everyone under the pretense of helping everyone. It simply makes no sense to violate peopleâ€™s property under the guise of helping them. A helpful analogy to make sense of this is his famous Broken Window Analogy. Suppose that I throw a stone through a bakerâ€™s window and shatter it to pieces. Some would say that this is a good thing because it has created business for the glass maker and window fitter, thusly improving the economy. But it is writtenÂ that this is not so, because in providing business to the glass maker, no real wealth was produced. Instead of investing money in expanding or improving his/her bakery, the baker had to spend that money on fixing the window. When additionalÂ bread and a window could have been enjoyed, now only a window is. No wealth was createdÂ by these events, but rather is was destroyed.
It is the same story with a healthcare system funded by heavy taxation. What is seenÂ is that people are providedÂ healthcare, but what is unseen is that citizens are strippedÂ of money that could have been usedÂ to pay for their own cheaper healthcare, and also help out their neighbor by donating to healthcare charity fund. Publicly run health care appearsÂ to be cheaper because the cost is out of sight and out of mind until tax day.
For one thing, Canadaâ€™s system is a single tierÂ system also known as single-payer in which only the government provided option is permissible- with some small private exceptions. I find it peculiar that socialist, statists, and social planners object most loudly to monopoly in business, but then defend a near monopoly when it is held by the State. The reason for this is a number of well-intended myths about healthcare. The first myth is that healthcare is a human right.
I have already addressed the topic in my publication on The Humble Libertarian, What Are Human Rights?,[ref]Sharp, Eric. â€œWhat Are Human Rights?â€, The Humble Libertarian Sunday, July 11, 2010. [http://www.humblelibertarian.com/2010/07/what-are-human-rights.html][/ref] in which I argue the following. â€œI have often heard it loudly proclaimed, as if bellowed atop a great mountain in triumph, that x is a â€œhuman rightâ€ -everything from food, clean water, education, and even health care. The socialists â€¦ routinely make such proclamations. But are any of these things a human right? As flowery and â€œcompassionateâ€ as it is to say yes, I must put my foot down. Food, water, health care, education, all of theseÂ things are very important. Certainly I want everybody to have these things. But here is my barometer of whether something is a right: Can you demand this â€œrightâ€ from a stranger? Neither you nor I can stop someone on the street and demand to beÂ educated. It is equally asÂ silly to stop a doctor and demand heart surgery, or an inspection of an ingrown toenail. The stranger is not obligated to teach nor to look at your toenail.â€œ [.,ibid.]
Now this is not to say that the doctor shouldnâ€™t help someone who is ill, and certainly isnâ€™t to suggest that people shouldnâ€™t give their money to help people in need. But what this analogy of asking a stranger who is a doctor for health care reveals another important point about healthcare, which is that is a service, it is a product. As a service, naturally there will be some who are better equipped to offer these services than others. So it necessarily follows that these medical service providers, some call them doctors, must compete for customers. In a more morbid sense, they must compete for your wound. In this environment where medical service providers compete against each other for customers, prices for services must necessarily go down. The compassionate among us may raise the objection that there are persons without money or without enough of it to pay for these services. This is where a network of charities can cover these people. Will they spring up over night? No, but the welfare state prevent them from arising because psychologically these problems are already taken care of. These days with the new technologies of the Internet, email-direct mail, and electronic money transfer there tantilizingÂ new ways to compassionately and voluntarily care for other needy Candians.
Additionally however, people need to take a degree of self-responsibility for their healthcare. Which is why Health Savings Accounts are such an attractive option. They allow people to deduct from their taxes a certain amount of money and squirrel that money in a health savings account (HSA) this allows individuals to take control of their own health care. As written in Healthy Competition
â€œHSAsÂ represent a milestone in health care policy, for they help restore the right to choose oneâ€™s doctor and oneâ€™s health insurance, to own oneâ€™s health insurance policy, and to save for future medical needs. HSAs replace the perverseÂ incentives involved in paying providers on the basis ofÂ volume with rather thanÂ health plans and networks, as Porter and TeisbergÂ recommend. HSAsÂ represent a significant departure from the prevailing culture of health care in America, focusing producersâ€™ attention on the needs of consumers, and all parties on the need for greater economy and innovation.â€[sensible incentives that result from paying providers on the basis of value. HSAs encourage providers to compete for individual patientsÂ [ref]Cannon, Michael F. & Tanner, Michael D. â€œHealthy Competitionâ€, pg 12 2nd paragraph. Copyright Â© 2007 by the Cato Institute., WashingtonÂ D.C.[/ref]. I submit to you that if the Canadian State would allow such things as individual choice in healthcare HSAs could work very well for Canadians.