Universal Healthcare: Who Really Pays? – American Thinker


Proponents of “universal healthcare” often assert that healthcare is a right. If so, then healthcare is a rather different kind of right than those of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. We get those unalienable rights from our Creator, or from Nature. But healthcare is a complex array of products and services that must be provided by other people, and they expect to be paid.

Everyone, however, already has a right to healthcare, just like they have a right to food, shelter, and other necessities. Indeed, if a purveyor of necessities refused to sell his goods to certain Americans, perhaps through redlining, he’d have a nice little federal case on his hands. Even so, one still must pay for those necessities.

What the proponents of universal healthcare (also called single-payer or Medicare for all or socialized medicine) really mean by healthcare being a right is that the government should provide healthcare to everyone for “free.” Which means someone else must pay.

Of course, ObamaCare is not universal healthcare; it’s a hybrid of Medicaid for some, government subsidies for others, and a mandate for those who have the money to pay the entire cost of health insurance to do so. And the millions who are left out of ObamaCare can get “free” healthcare at hospital emergency rooms.

Everyone in America, including illegal aliens, can receive “free” healthcare from hospitals that take Medicare patients, which means just about all hospitals. This started in 1986 with EMTALA, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. With EMTALA, America has had universal healthcare for 29 years.

The problem with EMTALA is that there were no payment provisions; the feds didn’t provide any funding. What that necessitates is that hospitals must charge paying patients more in order to cover the costs of care for the non-paying patients. It’s called “cost-shifting.”

To see the dynamic here, let’s transfer it to restaurants. If the feds required all restaurants to provide free food to those who can’t pay and, like EMTALA, the feds didn’t pay for those non-payers, then eateries would have to charge more than they otherwise would to paying customers. That, or go out of business. In a nifty little article at Forbes in 2012, Dr. Amesh Adalja, M.D. wrote:

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