login about faq

It is said that socialism rations healthcare (i.e. a bunch of bureaucrats decide which medicines/procedures will be performed or not). However, under capitalism, private health insurers dominate the market and essentially do the same thing. That is why doctors "fight" with the insurance companies to approve certain procedures. The cost of private insurance also prevents lower income people from being able to afford healthcare, so healthcare is effectively rationed for them. Isn't the argument that socialized medicine leads to rationing essentially invalid since capitalist medicine does the same thing to manage costs?

asked Jan 13 '13 at 23:00

user890's gravatar image

user890
2491033

You recognize the context in which "ration" is being used: "i.e. a bunch of bureaucrats decide which medicines/procedures will be performed or not". In capitalism, this type of rationing does not occur.

You say "under capitalism, private health insurers dominate the market and essentially do the same thing". You must be confusing the current US system with capitalism. The "private health insurers" in the US today are very highly regulated, and this does introduce a form of rationing. But it isn't capitalism.

In capitalism, any company could cover any person under any terms at any price.

(Jan 14 '13 at 08:27) anthony anthony's gravatar image

You say "the cost of private insurance also prevents lower income people from being able to afford healthcare". Again, the reason prices are so high is that the system is not capitalism. There are numerous areas of forced coverage, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions after a one-year waiting period, and starting in 2014 coverage for pre-existing conditions with no waiting period. You will find that as of a few years ago, individual health insurance is affordable for the first year, and goes up in price dramatically after year one. Expect it to be high from day 1 in 2014.

(Jan 14 '13 at 08:33) anthony anthony's gravatar image

From an economic standpoint, everything in the market (whether feudalism or capitalism) is rationed because we live in a world with limited resources that have multiple uses that have to compete with one another. Capitalism rations out medicine just like socialism or any other economic system, but it is done in a different distributive manner.

(Jan 15 '13 at 23:12) TheBucket TheBucket's gravatar image
showing 2 of 3 show all

I think your question equivocates on what is meant by "ration". In one sense, you are taking ration in a very broad way to mean something like "dole out a limited resource". Of course, any limited resource can be considered "rationed" by such a broad definition, no matter how it's distribution was decided (e.g., by market forces, government decree, a roll of the die, etc.). However, that is generally not what is meant when an Objectivist says that socialism causes rationing of medical care.

The more specific definition specifically refers to when the distribution of a limited resource is controlled by government decree (i.e., by the implied threat of force). In this case, the objection is that this curtails the right of individuals to trade amongst themselves freely by voluntary consent. No matter what the good or service, it must be produced by someone, and it is a violation of their rights for the government to prohibit them from selling it to whomever they wish at whatever prices they choose.

For medical service, this is especially confusing because the industry (especially the insurance portion of it) has been so tightly controlled for so long, it's hard to get a clear picture of what it would like look in a capitalist economy (rather than a mixed economy such as we have now). For an example, consider the state of veterinary medicine. There is relatively little regulation, insurance is available on much the same terms as your car insurance, and equivalent procedures and much cheaper. This is an example of a relatively free medical system... not the tightly control health insurance industry we have today.

For more on this, read The Difference Between Voluntary Exchange and Rationing in Healthcare in The Objectivist Standard.

answered Feb 04 '13 at 01:43

Andrew%20Miner's gravatar image

Andrew Miner ♦
976415

Excellent answer. Thanks for clearing up the definition of "ration."

(Feb 04 '13 at 20:16) user890 user890's gravatar image

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here

By RSS:

Answers

Answers and Comments

Share This Page:

Tags:

×63
×13

Asked: Jan 13 '13 at 23:00

Seen: 4,360 times

Last updated: Feb 04 '13 at 20:16