“If we just give the government control over the health care industry, everyone can have access to care like all the other industrialized nations on earth.”  Heard this before?  This is, of course, the fatal conceit Hayek warned us about, the central planning that has invariably delivered misery and death everywhere it has been tried.  “The market can’t be trusted to deliver health care.”  “The government has to have a profound and controlling role.” Right.

Unfortunately for the statists who embrace these arguments there are stories like this one.  Central planning bureaucrats, charged with allocating physicians as a resource have made a mess of things in Great Britain, it seems.  Paid more to work in an emergency room than they are in their regular practices (referred to as “surgeries”), British doctors are…..ready…..working more in emergency rooms and less in their practices!  This  leaves their regular patients with no access to care…. unless they go see their doctor at the emergency room!  This is exactly what is going on, as unnecessary visits to the emergency rooms (Accident and Emergency Units, as the Brits call them) have cost the National Health Service about 100 million pounds each year, according to the article.

The disaster of “universal care” has just about run its course in Canada and in Britain, with privatization efforts well underway.  There is every reason to believe that the annointed ones in D.C. know that these national health care systems are a disaster.  It is very difficult for me to believe the health care apparatchiks can claim ignorance at this point.  They know it hasn’t worked anywhere else and they know it won’t work here.  I believe they are quite simply selling advantages and favors to their corporate cronies, raking in the short term benefits for themselves and their pals, leaving the long term mess with the rest of us.

In the meantime, the wisdom of transparently-priced, market-embracing medical practices is spreading here in the U.S., with prices falling as a result of this competition.  Rothbard described the power and the beauty of the market process and that very process is improving access to care for even the poor.  Competitive pricing and improving quality.  This is the language and the reality of the free market.  Rationing and death panels.  These are the goals of the central planners. The story linked to above highlights yet another in a long list of planning failures in Britain’s health care “utopia.” 

G. Keith Smith, M.D.