Opinion

BILLINGSLEY: 2020 Democrats Proposed A Monopoly For Health Care — But Forgot To Mention It Will End Individual Choice

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Lloyd Billingsley Policy Fellow, Independent Institute

Democratic presidential candidates, especially Sens. Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, want to eliminate private health insurance, and most of the candidates want a “single-payer” system. Unsung candidate John Delaney wants both, but experience suggests that won’t be possible.

Delaney, 56, a former Maryland congressman, entered the 2020 race way back in July 2017 but remains unknown to many Americans. He has since toured all 99 counties in Iowa as part of his grassroots campaign. The candidate shows signs that he has been listening to the people.

Delaney wants everybody to have health care, but in the first Democratic debate said, “A hundred million Americans say they like their private health insurance.”

He added, “Why do we have to stand up for taking away something from the people? And also, it’s bad policy.” As Delaney sees it, if every hospital billed at the Medicare rate, “they would close,” and people would ask, “Why are you taking away my healthcare?”

The former congressman has a point, but there’s a larger back story here. It has to do with the drift of so many candidates to the far reaches of the left, openly touting socialism.

“From each, according to his ability,” socialist patriarch Karl Marx suggested, “to each, according to his need.” Notice the first word. First and foremost, in the socialist vision, the ruling class takes from the people, presuming to judge the abilities of the individual.

In similar style, the socialist ruling class, what Marx called the “dictatorship of the proletariat,” presumes to judge the “needs” of individuals. In practice, Marx’s formulations amounts to a mandate: “you will do what we tell you and we will give you what we think you need.”

That’s how it worked in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, where self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders chose to spend his honeymoon. Predictably, Sanders is the leading voice for taking away private health insurance. For his part, Delaney wondered, “Why do we have to stand up for taking away something from the people?” But he too leaves out a key part of the picture.

We should give everyone in this country healthcare as a basic human right or free, full stop,” Delaney said in the debate. “But we should also give them the option to buy private insurance.”

Trouble is, government monopoly health care, what proponents emphasize as “single payer,” tends to exclude individual choice.

The so-called “Affordable Care Act,” in effect, trained people for that reality by taking away the doctors and medical plans the president told the people they could keep. Most if not all government monopoly health care systems outlaw private care, even if the patient is willing to pay for it. In 2014, 52,513 Canadians received non-emergency medical treatment in the United States and other countries, a 25 percent jump from 41,838 the previous year.

Sanders is on record saying Fidel Castro “gave health care” to Cubans and “totally transformed the society.” Yet, thousands of Cubans fled the Communist regime, and dictator Fidel Castro relied on the care of Spanish surgeons.

Meanwhile, you can have health care choices or you can have government monopoly health care. You can’t have both, and if the government calls the shots, you will get only as much care as the government wants you to have.

Lloyd Billingsley is a policy fellow at the nonprofit Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.