As the 2020 presidential candidate field narrows, healthcare has emerged as a central issue this election, being debated and discussed extensively on the national stage. On the progressive end of the spectrum, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Elizabeth Warren lead the initiative for Medicare for All, whereas the more moderate candidates such as former mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg simply advocate for a public healthcare program. Despite the small differences between the plans, the candidates all support greater government involvement and increased spending on healthcare.
While the healthcare debate typically examines the implications of specific plans, the more important issues to consider are the overarching moral implications of these new programs, instead of dwelling on minute details of highly specific plans for universal healthcare. The greatest flaw to any form of universal healthcare in America is the unconstitutional precedent that it sets.
Currently, President Donald Trump is working to undo former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which raised taxes on citizens in order to provide accessible healthcare for those with financial constraints. With another four years of Trump, we can expect to see little change in the healthcare world. It is clear that Trump is trying to restore the private sector and, even if Democrats hold majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate, Trump’s veto power would prevent any changes.
The idea of universal healthcare oversteps the role of the government. Under the constitution, people are given the right to “life,” not a subscription to a service that they will not necessarily use or need. Universal healthcare would be similar to the benefits we get as citizens from libraries and parks. We have these services and we can choose to use them as little or much as we want, but regardless of how much we use them, we all get taxed for it. With the introduction of government-controlled healthcare, the government assumes the responsibility of protecting one’s health. The implications of such a duty are far too vast for any government to provide.
Once the government becomes the agency that maintains public health, it assumes all the normal roles that an insurance provider would carry out. Serving as the national healthcare provider, the government would profit when members pay for the subscription and do not use it. Therefore, it would be in the government’s best interest to ensure the overall health of its citizens to cut medical expenses.
While universal healthcare produces an incentive for a healthier population, it also gives the government enormous control over our free choice. This means that the government would be motivated to ban or disincentivize anything that it deems as a potential threat to public health, with the justification that it would be for the greater good of the public. This entails sin taxes and national bans that would disrupt one of the most prided features of America—the free market economy. Universal healthcare gives the government dangerous control over civil activities which are even slightly detrimental to one’s overall health.
Click here to read Presentations Editor Spencer Klink’s counterpoint.