Obamacare (aka, “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”) rests on the premise that government should provide healthcare to its citizens—that is, that healthcare is a “right” that every American should have. However, there’s overwhelming evidence that government-run healthcare is a disaster economically and socially. But what’s not often discussed is that government-run healthcare is also a gross violation of individual rights—and as such, is completely immoral.

The U.S. Constitution states that as citizens, we have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The right to life means you have the right to live your life as you see fit, and that you own your body and are the sole determiner of what you do with it. The right to liberty means you have the right to be free to live your life, think, express your views, and create wealth (and keep it), without force or restraint from government (unless you violate someone else’s rights). The right to the pursuit of happiness means you’re free to earn the values that will make you happy through your own thinking and effort. Happiness is not guaranteed (and couldn’t be)—you are only free to pursue it.

The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee the right to any particular product or service, such as food, clothing, shelter, or healthcare. The reason for this is that once government guarantees the right to specific material goods or services, someone has to pay for and provide them. And since the government doesn’t create wealth or healthcare professionals, it has to get both from its citizens. However, the only way the government can accomplish this is through force; that is, through mandatory taxation and massive regulations of the healthcare industry. Once force is involved, the government is (by definition) in violation of its citizens’ individual rights and is acting immorally. The government’s sole responsibility is to protect and uphold individual rights, not violate them.

In order to pay for government-run healthcare (i.e., Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare), individuals are taxed, since government doesn’t create anything itself. That money is then used to pay for other people’s healthcare, including those that make poor health choices (such as cigarette smokers and drug users). The wealthy and the middle class end up paying for most of it, since they pay the majority of taxes. Thus, the wealthier (and not-so-wealthy middle class) and more productive are forced to pay for the poorer and less productive. Redistribution of wealth (which is a euphemism for stealing from some to give to others) blatantly violates an individual’s inalienable rights to his or her life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness. There is no logical or moral justification for it.

In addition, under government-run healthcare, the rights of physicians, therapists, and other healthcare professionals to practice freely and make informed decisions based on their expertise and direct interaction with patients are constantly violated by government interference. The federal regulations governing Medicare alone are over 130,000 pages long. These regulations and restrictions don’t protect you; they only tie the hands of physicians and health professionals and prevent them from providing you with the best care possible.

These massive regulations also hurt the consumer. Instead of it being a relationship between you and your doctor and what you both think is best for your health; under Medicare and Obamacare (or any other government-type health scheme) the relationship is between you, your doctor, and some bureaucrats in Washington who know nothing about your individual healthcare needs, but who have made it their business to tell you what you need and what your physician or therapist can provide. This is a very scary thought. And even if you’re not officially covered under some government plan, the government’s overwhelming involvement in regulating the healthcare industry drives up costs and reduces the quality of healthcare for everyone.

Many people are unaware that 50% of all healthcare spending in the United States is made by our government (federal, state, and local). We do not have (and haven’t had for decades) a free market in healthcare. Economically, this erosion of freedom has nearly destroyed quality and affordable healthcare in this country. Morally, it is a supreme violation of the individual rights of American citizens and healthcare professionals. Obamacare will only make things worse.

The antidote to the destructive and immoral interference of government into healthcare is moving towards a completely free market in healthcare without any government interference (except to prosecute criminals). A free market will cause the quality of healthcare to go up and costs to go down (which is what happens in every other industry that’s left free). By doing so, we’ll not only vastly improve the quality and affordability of healthcare in America; we’ll prevent the gross violation of individual rights.


2 Responses to Obamacare: A Violation of Individual Rights

  1. Rosemary says:

    Hi Steve

    I read a similar article by you on the Examiner website a few years ago and I have been thinking about these issues a lot since then. I am surprised that you have changed my mind about many of these points, but I still have some counter-arguments/challenges/questions that I would like to hear your reaction to.

    1. The “tuberculosis on the bus” argument. If we truly had a free-market system with no government-sponsored health care whatsoever, I would be paying for my health care and for my daughter’s, not for random uninsured people on the street. As an individual I would not provide the missing safety net. Perhaps charities, funded by interested individuals would step up to the plate, but I have doubts about how this scenario would play out, how well-funded such charities would be, etc. So, there would be many people who I imagine would not get health care at all. This could increase public health risks that could pose a threat to all of us.

    2. Related to #1, I wonder whether or not children deserve special consideration. Through no fault of their own, many children have lousy parents who will not take proper care of them. I am very leery in general of government (e.g. the school system) overstepping its bounds and undermining parents’ rights, and I can also imagine similar issues coming up in health care, but I wonder whether or not an absolute lack of government involvement is really the best here. So, if there is a parent who is a drug addict and would rather spend any money they have on drugs rather than getting their child immunized, is it not in society’s best interest to pay for the child’s (voluntary) vaccination? You mention that in the best case scenario government exists simply to protect individual rights, but sometimes parents themselves trample on those rights. What if any role should the government play (in healthcare or otherwise)in the lives of children compared to adults. Do they merit different considerations or not?

    3. I think that many people in society at large are in favor of some kind of health care reform because of the many negative changes in the existing health care system. You seem to attribute some of this to existing government intervention but I question whether large business interests are also to blame. I have stuck with Kaiser in order to keep seeing the physicians there that have treated me for 20 years, but this system has gone to hell in a handbasket. On a recent ER visit absolutely no one in the building could tell me how much the services being recommended to me would cost and I later received a bill that was $1000 greater than the guesstimate the treating doctor gave me. My naive impression as a Kaiser consumer is that the organization has grown increasingly commercial/corporate over the years and I suspect that the larger it has grown the less control the doctors have over the care they can give in that paradigm. Is this really all attributable to government intervention, or can corporations get so big that their power is as oppressive as the power of a big government? What would happen in a free market system? If big=bad then people like me would flock to the private practice doctors, but on the other hand would medical corporations be freer to employ monopolistic business practices that would make it difficult for those in private practice to survive?

    4. I’m not going to relate this one to health care but to the larger philosophy that I understand you as coming from, one that prescribes a lack of government intervention in our lives (including business). I was wondering a lot during the aftermath of the BP oil spill what the counter argument was to governmental regulation. I suspect you would be quick to point out that the oil spill happened *with* governmental regulation in place, and you’re quite right, but I wonder if other similar environmental catastrophes with the potential to affect us all may have been averted by governmental regulations. I do think that the government has too many rules in general, especially those that impinge on individual liberties, but I don’t believe that corporations are people and in the absence of environmental protections enforced by the government I imagine a few corporations inflicting severe damage to the environment that we all depend on to survive, and I don’t know whether individuals would be able to stop this.

    I have one additional comment on your use of language. Here and in the Examiner article you make liberal use of the term “Obamacare.” Why do you suppose that you favor this term? How is its meaning similar to or different from other terms like “socialized medicine,” “government-funded health care” etc. Many people besides President Obama support the legislation, but “Obamacare” puts the focus on one individual and thus invokes all our other thoughts about this president. Using this term thus makes it more likely that someone who generally disapproves of the president will decide that the legislation is bad, and that those who generally view the president positively will decide the legislation is good. I think this goes against your whole ethos of thinking things through rationally and avoiding knee-jerk emotional reactions. I would be interested to know if other readers have a similar or different take on this.

    • Dr. Steve Orma says:

      Hi Rosemary, I couldn’t fully answer all your comments and questions here, but this is a start. Thanks for your comments.

      1. According to the World Giving Index, the United States is the most charitable country in the world (as reported recently in the Huffington Post http://tinyurl.com/73tmglg). Imagine how much more charitable people would be if they weren’t forced to pay a large amount of their income to the government. In a free market, healthcare would also be more affordable and of higher quality, which you see with any product or service that isn’t controlled by the government (e.g., technology). Thus, more people could afford it than they can now. Why do you think healthcare has become so expensive? Did the healthcare providers suddenly get greedy one day? If you look at the numbers, cost of healthcare has gone up (and quality gone down) the more government has tried to control, regulate, and subsidize it over the last several decades.

      2. Parents are responsible for their own kids’ healthcare, food, shelter, education, and everything else. They take on that responsibility when they decide to have kids. How just is it to make people pay for other people’s kids? There are laws in place to protect kids from abusive parents. If a parent is neglecting his or her child, then there are repercussions (which should be decided upon by the legal system with objective laws). However, someone else should not have to pay for the bad choices of parents, even if that affects their child. But, I believe there would be plenty of charities in place that would help out children who were in need of healthcare, food, etc, in cases like this. Who wouldn’t want to help an innocent child who is in danger through no fault of his or her own? In addition, I think this would be done much more efficiently, professionally, cheaply, and humanely if done by private charities than by government, which is notoriously inefficient.

      3.This is one of the oldest arguments against capitalism and for government controls. But, if you study history, it is completely unfounded. We don’t have a free market in this country and haven’t had anything close to one for over a hundred years (what we have is a mixed economy—some freedom and lots of controls, with controls increasing). Thus, you can’t blame problems with Kaiser (or any healthcare company) on the free market, since a free market doesn’t exist. The healthcare industry is one of the most regulated and controlled–50% of all healthcare dollars being spent by the government. Managed care (which Kaiser falls under) is a government creation. The government passed laws to support and encourage managed care. Big does not equal bad. Apple is huge, but offers so many amazing products that have changed our lives. Big (in a free market) means productive, innovative, and efficient. How did they become big to begin with? In order for any company to become big, they have to create and sell products and services that people want and are voluntarily willing to pay for. Name one abusive monopoly that has ever existed without government help? The only way a company can become a monopoly is through government favors and subsidies (such as utility companies, public education, and the post office), which by definition would not be a free market. In a free market, if you don’t like Kaiser, you can leave them and go to another healthcare provider—there is always competition in a free market because no one is restricted from entering it. If you really want better service, higher quality, and lower prices in healthcare, you should advocate for a free market and fight against any type of government controls and regulations (other than prosecuting criminal activity).

      4. Government regulation and controls do not make us safer—they make our lives more dangerous, because they restrict innovation and prevent companies and individuals from thinking for themselves and taking full responsibility for their lives and choices. This is a huge topic and I can’t go into all the issues, but I’ll give a couple examples. One frightening example is the FDA, which under the guise of safety keeps potentially life saving drugs and medical procedures from being used, even when the consumer understands the risks. A recent example of this is the drug Avastin, which could actually extend the lives of some of those with breast cancer, but the FDA revoked its use (here’s a link to an article that explains the case http://tinyurl.com/87f3hbl). This happens all the time with the FDA—they will fight against a drug being approved for years, while many people die in the process, under the guise of safety and the public welfare. Living in an industrialized society means there will be accidents, such as the BP oil spill. What the media, government, and college professors never say is how many tankers transport oil safely—and how much value that oil adds to our lives. They only focus on the accidents, what goes wrong, and then the oil companies are vilified for being evil haters of the environment, or evil capitalists. People say these criticisms while they’re filling their gas tanks, flying on jets, enjoying electricity (powered by oil), and enjoying all the amazing products created with oil. It is in the interest of BP and every other oil company to not have oil spills, because it costs them billions of dollars when it happens. They are not frivolous about being safe and preventing accidents. If they are, they will quickly go out of business, because of the expense. What motivates them to be as safe as possible is their bottom line, not arbitrary government regulations created by bureaucrats. Do you think you’re safer on an elevator because some government inspector gave it his seal of approval? This is the same government that “maintains” our broken down roads, runs the post office and public education, and operates AMTRAK. Not the best examples of safety and quality.

      I refer to it as “Obamacare” because it’s his creation (just like we had “Hillarycare and have Romneycare). They are all forms of socialized or government-controlled healthcare. Obama is the fountainhead behind this current form of socialized healthcare, and he was the one who was able to push it through congress, before anyone even had the chance to read it. Obama is also one of the most consistently socialistic presidents in history (if not the most) and is expanding the government at a huge rate. So, the term is apt for that reason as well. I also refer to other government-funded healthcare, such as Medicare and Medicaid, which are not Obama creations. I make it clear in the article that my criticism is of the principles that underlie Obamacare, and how they are a violation of individual rights. It is not an anti-Obama article, but an anti-socialist and pro-freedom/capitalism one.

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