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My question relates to the health care industry in the US. I think that it is immoral and that it is the only industry that does not work well in a Capitalist system. To make money you deny sick people health insurance or force healthy people to buy health insurance. Do you agree or disagree with me ?

asked Dec 16 '10 at 17:37

Fareed's gravatar image


edited Dec 16 '10 at 18:05

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

This question assumes that talking about healthcare and health insurance is equivalent.

(Jan 27 '11 at 10:52) mnarayan ♦ mnarayan's gravatar image

I think the first thing to notice here is that the US health care industry is far from capitalistic, as it is rife with coercive government intervention. In this regard, the US health-care system is very much immoral: it is immoral in forcing one person to provide, or pay to provide, another's medical care (as in government health insurance or hospitals); it is immoral in forcing patients to abstain from experimental procedures or drugs they wish to try (as in FDA regulations); it is immoral in forcing doctors to not prescribe drugs they and their patients deem useful (as with narcotics and their levels that government officials don't approve of), and on and on. So much coercive, non-capitalistic, rights-violating intervention in what could otherwise be a peaceful, productive, rights-respecting arena.

But setting aside all such non-capitalistic, coercive elements: Is it immoral per se for someone to hire a physician, or for a physician to trade his work for pay? Certainly not, just the opposite -- and someone preventing such commerce between free people would be a deeply immoral rights-violation... just as someone forcing the doctor to work against his will would be immoral, something otherwise known as slavery. Is it immoral for someone to offer health insurance in a free market so people can buy it and distribute the financial risk of being hit with the costs of catastrophic medical care? Certainly not, just the opposite -- and preventing such commerce between free people would be a deeply immoral rights-violation... as would be forcing people to buy insurance against their will, or forcing insurance companies to pay for things they didn't and wouldn't agree to pay for.

In the Objectivist view, the force-wielding thugs are the immoral ones, while the peaceful, productive, capitalistic traders are the humanitarian heroes.

answered Dec 16 '10 at 19:53

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

"Industry" and "immoral" are contrary. No industry is immoral. Capitalism is moral and optimal in the business of medical services as well as any other business, for the same reasons.

A sick individual who is provided medical care at someone--or everyone--else's expense is benefitted at the expense of the person who doesn't get medical attention, because it was forcibly denied him in the name of altruism.

It would be wrong for anyone to agree or disagree with you, I believe, as your claim to "think" on the matter is demonstrably a hoax. If someone sincerely holds the view you state, it will be after a great deal of work on the subject, and it will be with at least an offer of reasons.

answered Dec 16 '10 at 18:02

Mindy%20Newton's gravatar image

Mindy Newton ♦

Thanks for the reply Mindy. Alright lets take the case of EMTALA. Let us assume for argument's sake that it was repealed. If we repealed this Act would it be immoral to let someone die in the hospital parking lot because they didn’t have health insurance?

(Dec 16 '10 at 18:26) Fareed Fareed's gravatar image

Hi, Fareed. For your followup question, I suggest checking out this other Q&A: "Should you help a man who's dying in front of you?"

(Dec 16 '10 at 19:58) Greg Perkins ♦♦ Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

The premise in your question inverts the objectives of the entrepreneurs in this industry: you suggest that to make money, insurers deny sick people insurance, but that is not the focus or objective of providers or insurers. They are not pre-occupied with a negative. As in any industry, health care providers (or insurers) seek to make money by offering something of value to those willing to pay for their service. And they are seeking to trade with as many people as possible. A free market in this industry, as in any other industry, leads to the best products, at the best prices, for the most people. This is established economic fact.

Your reservation seems to be with the fact that there might be some people that go without if the government doesn't intervene and create rules that guarantee (i.e. force) care for all. And you presume there is some better alternative than a free market. However, the availability of care in socialist countries like England and Canada denies more people the quality of care than most would be able to afford and enjoy in a Capitalist system. These countries have poorer quality and ration care to keep up with demand.

Of course none of this is the real way to determine what is moral, it is not an issue of which system serves the most people. If you believe in individual rights then there is only one system you can find moral and that is a system that respects rights and does not force participants into service or to part with their money.

answered Dec 17 '10 at 17:45

la_phil's gravatar image

la_phil ♦

edited Jan 27 '11 at 08:43

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Asked: Dec 16 '10 at 17:37

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Last updated: Jan 27 '11 at 10:52