Is There a Human Right to Medical Insurance?
Walter E. Block
Loyola University New Orleans - Joseph A. Butt, S.J. College of Business
October 18, 2011
Paul Krugman (2004, 2005) has written a series of articles on our present socialized medical system. Implicit in his publications is the claim that medical service is a human right, and that our present system does a poor job of providing for and safeguarding it, in that, in particular, not all people are covered by health insurance. Hence, we are an unjust society. Some of his criticisms are very telling.
The present paper argues, however, that his problems with the present system stem from it socialist and fascist elements, not from free enterprise, as he contends. Instead of calling for markets, freely determined prices and laissez faire capitalism for health care, Krugman urges that we go even further in the direction of medical central planning and government regulation, precisely the causes of the problems he mentions.
This is akin to complaining about the transmission of a car, when the reason it will not function is that all four of its tires are flat. To wit, Krugman blames the plight of our medical industry on – wait for it – too much competition, when the real problem is that we do not have nearly enough of this rare and precious element of free market economics. It is precisely the lack of competition that is responsible for our medical difficulties.
We utilize section II of this paper in an attempt to shed light on the issue of human rights, and to ask if medical care can qualify in this regard. We reject all such claims. In section III we discuss problems on the supply side of medicine: entry restrictions for doctors. Section IV is given over to an analysis of the demand side of this market: the moral hazard imposed by the subsidy system on patients. The purpose of section V is to focus on yet two other aspects of the disarray of medical economics: the malpractice scandal, and the fact that medical socialism, just like socialism for the entire economy, leads to planning irrationality. In section VI we focus more narrowly on Krugman’s specific criticisms. We conclude in section VII.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 27working papers series
Date posted: October 20, 2011
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