A Journal for Western Man




Drifting Toward Socialized Medicine

Richard G. Parker, M.D.

Issue VI- September 21, 2002


This letter to the editor was published in Texas Medicine, December 1999.

In his Commentary (Texas Medicine, Special Issue, vol. 95, no 10, October 1999) Timothy Gorski, MD correctly states, "The future of American medicine depends on how some very serious questions are answered." In his article, Dr. Gorski identifies the essential crucial issue: "Do people have a right to medical care?"

Rather than identifying the moral principles upon which the concept of "rights" are based, however, Dr. Gorski asserts "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness come to mind when the subject of human rights is raised. But these amount essentially to the right to be left alone." Dr. Gorski goes on the beg the question by posing several hypothetical questions beginning with "If a fundamental right to medical care exists. . ."

Health care is not a right and no "fundamental right to medical care exists." A political right derives from the moral principle that it is both necessary and good for an individual to act to live (thus a right to life), that in order to live it is necessary to be free to act to live (thus a Right to liberty) and that the moral purpose of an individual's life is the freedom to pursue one's own happiness (thus the right to the pursuit of happiness).

There is no moral or political right to the products or services of others, including health care. Attempting to grant a non-existent right to the product or service of others necessarily means denying the individual rights of those who produce the service or product and reducing the producers to the status of right less slaves.

In the context of the current health care debate, this means the enslavement of physicians to the government and ultimately the destruction of medicine.

As long as one does not violate the individual rights of others, rights do essentially mean "the right to be left alone" from the government. Government exists to protect individual rights, not to destroy them by attempting to arbitrarily create non-existent rights.

In other words, Physicians have the right to freely produce health care, to treat patients free from government regulation and the threat of coercion and force. For the same reasons, an individual patient carries financial responsibility for his or her own health care (directly out of pocket, by voluntarily contracting with an insurance company, etc.) and has the right to see the physician of their choice, to decide with their physician what treatment is best for them, under what circumstances and by whom this treatment will be rendered, free from government regulation or the threat of government force.

The physician-patient relationship is one based on the trader principle, where each party engages in the relationship freely, without the threat of government force and regulation. This relationship is a keystone for the practice of medicine. If this relationship is destroyed through the arbitrary use of government force, the result is the destruction of medicine, for patients and physicians.

A free market in medicine is the only moral and practical means of ensuring quality health care. Consistent with this fact are such "reforms" as the full expansion of medical savings accounts (MSAs), and granting full 100% tax-deductibility to individuals for health insurance premiums and health care costs. Unless physicians, the public and politicians embrace free market "reforms" in medicine, America's drift toward socialized medicine and the consequent destruction of medicine will continue.

Dr. Richard Parker, a practicing emergency physician in the Dallas, Texas area, is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in Marina del Rey, Calif.  The Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. He is also a writer and editor for Objective Medicine, an site devoted to presenting intellectual fuel to doctors and other rational individuals who wish to contribute to reversing the destructive nationalization of medical endeavors. You can visit Objective Medicine at http://www.objectivemedicine.org.

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA’s Statement of Policy.

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