What do conservatives think about universal healthcare?

I’m just curious if there are any drowning-government-in-the-bathtub conservatives who see a place for universal healthcare. Is that some sort of oxymoron? It seem to me that it would help businesses (and thus the economy), but I’m not an economist.

Not a conservative but a fiscally conservative Republican here. I’m against Universal Health care for the same reason I’m against HMO’s. They take all the consumer responsibility away from the user. That leads to run-amok charges.

I would love to trade my HMO for cash and go back to health insurance. The difference would be that I would pick up the routine calls and insurance would cover catastrophic events. So in that light, I’d be more receptive to universal insurance. It would be great if we collectively pooled our resources toward making the expensive stuff significantly cheaper for the consumer (such as a CT Scan).

I’m not convinced at all by arguments that universal healthcare would help businesses. Such a benefit would have to be paid by someone, and business would have to shoulder much of this cost in taxation. If it wasn’t paid, it would be available for jobs, investment, and innovation.

Of course, the current system is a huge drain on business as well, and I won’t defend it.

I am sure that a great portion of the cost overruns of the current system are due to the fact that consumer driven market forces do not apply at all. Government and large insurance companies shield consumers from paying direct health care costs and remove any incentive to shop around.

In areas where insurance coverage or Medicare/Medicaid does not intrude, the real cost of medical care has gone down sharply even as innovation has exploded. Just look at the costs over the years of things like gender reassignment surgery, cosmetic surgery, or laser vision correction. All are now more sophisticated, more widely available, and cheaper.

The rest of medicine should follow this model to a greater degree, and things like medical savings accounts backed by catastrophic care insurance might just do the trick.

Well, I am a fairly conservative Libertarian. I am opposed to ‘Universal Healthcare’ because we cannot afford it. As P.J. O’Rourke pointed out 'If you think health care is expensive now, just wait until it is free."

Also I have travelled enough to have seen nations with these kinds of plans. No thanks. I do not want Commissioners, Congressmen or Commissars managing my health care.

One of the conservative arguments, popular in the days of the Cold War, was that universal healthcare (typically called “socialized medicine” in those days) represented creeping socialism, and therefore was a dangerously radical idea. The irony was that the staunchly anti-socialist U.S. military had completely socialized medicine. Not only service members but their families only had to show their cards to get free care from government doctors, in government hospitals.

The anti-big-government objection to universal healthcare strikes me as a newer development. But even at that, you could make a smaller-government argument for universal healthcare by maintaining existing health insurance companies as middlemen between healthcare consumers, and the ultimate payor of the bills (the government). That way universal coverage would actually shrink the existing government health bureaucracy very significantly.

Also, from a fiscal conservative position, you only have to look at how much the U.S. is spending relative to our European peers to realize that we are wasting vast sums through inefficiency. That’s a point that tends to get lost when we think about the cost of government picking up the tab.

Well, we afford what we have now, and we’re paying nearly twice, on a percentage of GDP basis, what some Europeans are paying today for universal coverage. Why couldn’t we afford a more rationalized and efficient system than what we have today?

And the business about “Commissioners, Congressmen or Commissars” telling you what care you can have – like we don’t have that now? Or have you never had to negotiate with your HMO over something they refused to pay?

Drowning-government-in-the-bathtub moderate libertarian here. :stuck_out_tongue: My question to you would be WHY do you think universal healthcare would be good for business? What do you base that on, what are your thoughts wrt that?

For myself I think neither our current half assed system NOR universal healthcare would be good for business. I would like to see the entire industry reorganized and deregulated (privatized completely)…I think THAT would give us the optimal healthcare system for our society. Instead of regulating healthcare, if you want to help the poor then do so directly out of general tax funds…give them the ability through direct payment to make THEIR own choices in a completely open and privatized system.

JMHO there. I doubt you are going to get many conservatives who are going to come forward and say they are all for universal healthcare in the US…though some might conceed that if the choice is the current fucked up system and universal healthcare that perhaps UHC is the lesser of two evils.


I asked this of somebody in another thread, and I’ll ask it of you: would you go so far as to let anybody practice medicine, regardless of training or licensure? Some (many?) libertarians say yes, but I don’t know how much traction that idea has among conservatives generally.

No…I’m not an over the top zero government libertarian. I’m actually for a certain level of government involvement and regulation…just not to the current level we are seeing.

I don’t think that the majority of the excessive costs in our current healthcare system come from licensing or training of our medical personnel though…so I don’t see why anyone would want to remove these two very valid things from the system. Whats the rationale?


Liberals, for reasons wholly unbknown to me, make to assumptions about universal healthcare:

  1. It will have none of the flaws of the current system.

  2. It will have many benefits, despite a complete lack of precedent for getting them.

I personally have a great many reasons to dislike universal healthcare.

  1. It will make it much harder to get private plans, insurance, etc. I want to buy my own. Frankly, I don’t want employers having anything to do with it.

  2. It will almost certainly destroy the market for new medical research. Interesting fact: more than half the world’s medical research happens in the U.S. Even companies based in Europe are moving their research to the U.S. Know why? Aside from the pool of talented reasearchers, the Americans are the only people willing to actually pay for the research. In fact, we’re picking up the entire world’s tab on research. Everyone else wants to pay for the drug’s cost of manufacture, but refuses to pay for the research itself. Liberals keep having wet dreams over the idea of having one huge negotiator to push drug costs down, not realizing that this will kill the incentive to get new drugs. They then have the gall to claim that they will just offer new research grants, which is an idea frought wiyth so many problems it deserves it own bashing thread.

  3. Lastly, I just plain don’t trust the government not to completely screw it up.

Besides which, liberals miss much easier solutions in their zeal to push universal healthcare. I’d willingly pony up the dough for the indigent and to provide better preventative care, if it were accompanied by reforms to clear the current mess - caused by leftist politicians, I mght add. For starters, end the rules making employer -sponsored healthcare cheaper: let everyone pay for it tax-free, with any plan they like (many plans probably will continue to be offered through employers, because insurance companies love needs-blind pools of customers).

The reason this is important is because we set things up so there are two opposing sides. Employers (or insurance), who pay for everything (including, in a bit of absolute lunacy, normal checkups), want costs down and have little reason to care about quality. Consumers care only about quality and none about cost. Thus, it’s difficult to compromise, and everyone winds up angry and frustrated no mater who wins.

If government takes over, it will still be this way, but the consumer will have even less say. Buraeucrats don’t give a flip: they don’t write the rules and have no power. There’s no solution there. Evening out the tax situation will give low-income workers better footing (since many employers of unskilled, low=paid workers don’t offer healthcare).

Because it wouldn’t be more rational or efficient. It would claim to be, but it would be just as bad and would introduce whole new realms of bad.

Secondly, I’m getting pretty sick of leftists claiming that Europe (and Canada) are some bastion of awesome goodness when it comes to healthcare. They have their own problems, and those problems are often worse. Sopme problems are different, and some are the same. But I don’t think you can honestly claim it’s better, hands down.

Sure, we could keep costs down to their level. But at the same time, we’d have to throw out a lot of cutting-edge treatments that you simply can’t get, or can get only haphazardly, outside the U.S. And service levels would have to drop in many areas.

This is a basic problem I have with liberals puishing universal healthcare. They compare the current system to perfection, dismiss it as flawed, and then offer something they claim is perfect in its place, sight unseen. Everything has costs, period. When people try and tell me it doesn’t, I know they’re trying to sell me something I don’t want.

While this is partly a strawman, your just made your own opponent’s points. You can negotiate with an HMO. Often they’ll agree to cover something. Try thatr with a Medicare bureaucrat.

Medical licenses are already handed out privately. Medical certification boards are not, strictly speaking, goverment run, but are a professional licensure association.
Lastly, healthcare costs is not areally in crisis anyway. They are certainly going up. However, it’s actually going up at the same rate as recreational spending: the two match easch other pretty well. I could argue pretty easily that if there were such a crisis, people would be cutting recreation to spend on healthcare.

To some extent, it’s a question of ideological consistency. But also, if you allow anyone to practice or dispense drugs or do surgery, you might actually get a fair amount of competition on price, which would drive down cost across the board. I mean, we might not like the outcomes, but such a system would at least bring the $50 nose job within reach. (Actually, if you bring your wife, I’ll do the two of you for $89.99, and even let you pay in installments.)

Smiling bandit, let me ask two questions:

  1. Do you like the current healthcare system?
  2. Are you okay with a significant percentage of people having no safety net when it comes to medical care?

Pure, unadulterated, unmitigated, ignorant bullshit. We have been over this and over this; it’s sheer nonsense that defies the most rock-simple economic analysis or even common sense. The price of a drug is the market-clearing cost, full stop. It does not matter what it cost to “research” it. If the optimal price of the latest erectile dysfunction pill (Boneral! Ask your doctor!) is $150, they will charge $150, not a dime more or less. It doesn’t matter if the research costs were $1 or $1 billion. Why is it so many self-professed conservatives who preach the wisdom of economics abandon it when discussing this issue?

What’s especially bizarre is that we’re not talking about drugs, we’re talking about medical care. I don’t know how it works in Europe, but in Canada we sure as hell do not have the government buying our drugs.* I’ve paid Godawful sums of money for drugs. You can’t seriously tell me it costs $25 solely for the manufacturing cost of a single pill. For all you hear about the allegedly subsidized drugs, it can’t be that subsidized. I thank Christ my employer has a private drug plan.

    • You know what else confuses me? In Canada, you have universal madical insurance… unless it involves your teeth. Dentistry is a wide open free market. Why? What is it about my teeth that I should pay out of pocket if they’re broken, but I don’t pay out of pocket if I break my arm?

I guess I’m a William F. Buckley conservative (standing athwart history, shouting stop!). Sal, the anti-big-government argument against universal health care is not new. It is related to, or maybe the same as, the free-market argument and the aversion-to-socialism argument. I’m not quite a Florence King small-government conservative (the government should print money, protect the borders and deliver the mail, period), but I generally prefer that markets be allowed to solve whatever problems markets can solve.

The free market has been getting shoved out of the health care arena since employers began offering health insurance after World War II. Somehow, this has resulted in the situation we have now. There is a fairly large class of people like me, who have pretty good health coverage paid for by their employer and by payroll deductions which are semi-painless, and who expect medical treatment to happen at little or no cost. There’s another large class of people who do not have the income I have or an employer who offers health insurance, and they are currently more or less screwed. They can generally get treatment, but it can cripple them financially.

I believe that removing the consumer from the payment chain after World War II is significantly, but not totally, responsible for the escalation in treatment costs. That escalation has led to the current escalation in insurance costs which are threatening to blow up the whole scheme. Markets can contribute to solving this problem, as noted by **Mr. Moto ** above in his example of non-covered procedure prices.

The big problem we have is the two-class system that has developed. Even a heartless conservative like me can see that we are approaching an untenable position in health care. I can hurt myself jogging and get tens of thousands of dollars worth of treatment, but there are millions of hard-working taxpayers who can’t get necessary, non-emergency treatment.

I am philosophically opposed on principle to a federal one-payer solution to this problem, but I also believe two things: the problem of the uninsured needs to be solved, and I can’t think of a free-market solution. It’s beginning to appear to me that a federal system will have to be the answer.

I’m an anarchist and therefore neither liberal nor conservative.

a) A definition needs to be hammered out, differentiating between medical misadventure (bad things happening to people in the process of receiving medical treatment provided in good faith by practitioners) and medical malpractice / misbehavior (medical blunders by practitioners retained by institutions that had reason to believe the practitioner was dangerous; gross procedural errors or unconscionable acts of neglect; etc). In the case of medical misadventure, malpractice awards will be limited to actual damages and recompense for lost abilities etc, and this will be paid directly to the victim by the government. Only in the case of actual malpractice & related malfeasance will doctors and institutions be held liable for injuries sustained by patients.

b) Revamp the Social Security Rx-med coverage completely. Simplify it, make it flat coverage for all necessary meds, make it competitive purchasing and bidding.

c) Allow insurance companies providing the above to Medicare recipients market modifications thereof to non-recipients under the same structure. In parallel to that but not in replacement, have a government-supplied version. Play with the constraints on the extent to which the private companies can exclude hi-risk / expensively ill people from coverage, and/or give such companies financial incentives for providing affordable coverage to such populations, seeking the sweet spot between sticking the government version with coverage for the non-lucrative expensive-treatment population, on the one hand, and making the entire enterprise unprofitable for the private companies.


I am not sure what the connection is between this and universal healthcare though, or if there even is one.

Why is this absolute lunacy?

The boards themselves might not be, strictly speaking, government run, sure, but it’s still very illegal to practice medicine without one of these licenses. So make the question: Would you advocate changing those laws?

What makes a government bureaucrat any worse than an HMO bureaucrat? At least when a government bureaucrat denies you treatment, it’s not because allowance would jepoardize this quarter’s profits.

The unsubstantiated assumption by conservatives that free markets always makes things better continues to baffle me, especially given the rampant corruption, mismanagement, and inefficiencies exhibited by contractors in the last few years.

Its akin to, say, the unsubstantiated assumption by (some) liberals that the government always makes things better…which is equally baffling considering the rampant corruption, mismanagement and inefficiencies exhibited by said government in, oh, say the last two hundred odd years (or if we are talking about more than the US, lets say the last few thousand, shall we?).



I think some of the major objections of conservatives are;[ul][li]That examples of government running a program cheaper or more efficiently than the private sector are few, and far between, and []It represents a large increase in the scope of government. If the government is paying for my health care, they have a built-in reason to regulate anything that affects my health and therefore the taxpayer’s costs. And, since it is mandatory, I may not opt out of having them pay for it. Therefore the government may and will tell me whether or not I may smoke, drink, drive, exercise, eat, or do in my free time. []Tax funding means that the connection between cost and performance is even more remote than it is now. You therefore get the problem of the commons.[/ul][/li]