Just like the Charlie Gard case, the Alfie Evans situation in the UK has highlighted one of the main problems with socialized health care. Once the government begins dolling out health care, they get to decide who gets it, how much they get, what exactly they get, and how long they can get it. Therein lies the problem because we cannot trust the government to deal fairly. The first to suffer under socialized medicine are the young, the vulnerable, and the elderly as the Terri Schiavo case, the Charlie Gard situation, and now Alfie Evans’ plight all showcase for us.
I want to address an aspect of this whole situation I haven’t heard many people discussing. Conservatives and Christians all over the United States, and even the world, are calling for the hospital to step in and save Alfie’s life. But wait, I thought conservatives didn’t believe health care was a right, but a privilege. Are conservatives being hypocritical? It sure seems so on the surface, but we have to consider two aspects of this situation.
First, the hospital and justice system in the UK are acting without the approval of Alfie’s parents. Say what you want to about whether it’s “inhumane” or not for Alfie’s life to be prolonged, the bottom line is that it is Alfie’s parent’s prerogative to choose if or when his ventilator is removed - not the hospital’s.
Second, the more difficult issue here, and one that requires us to think a little deeper, is that it appears that conservatives are vehemently opposed to socialized health care and often tout that health care is a privilege not a right, until we look around and see conservatives demanding the hospital and government provide health care. Are conservatives hypocrites about this issue? Absolutely not, for two reasons.
First, the government has already arrogated to themselves the responsibility of caring for every person’s life, so now we demand that they do just that. Once you take this responsibility out of the hands of the people, we must demand the government live up to its role, or we must remove the government from this role.
Second, you mean to tell me if Alfie Evans were here in the U.S., you wouldn’t demand the hospitals care for him? That if he can’t pay, he doesn’t receive health care? No, because we already have socialized health care here and I’m not talking about Obamacare. You see, U.S. hospitals rarely, if ever, turn patients away - especially those in crisis situations, no matter their financial situation. While considering cases as extreme as Alfie Evans and Charlie Gard, it seems conservatives are supremely harsh in saying if someone can’t pay, they don’t receive services, but think about if we truly had no socialized medicine here in the U.S. How much cheaper would health care be?
For example, Lasik eye surgery in the U.S. is not covered by insurance and is performed by private entities since it is considered a cosmetic surgery, which was a problem when Lasik first hit the scene over a decade ago. Prices were high averaging around $8,000, with the surgery performed by a knife-wielding surgeon, and with about a six-week recovery period. Now, because Lasik is not covered by insurance and the procedure was up for competition on the free market, over the last decade Lasik eye surgery has dropped dramatically in price, the procedure has drastically improved, and the recovery time is almost non-existent. The current price for Lasik varies from $300-$3,000 per eye with the average patient spending around $2,000 per eye depending on the procedure, the surgeon, and region. Competition and technology have also caused the procedure to move from knife-wielding surgeon to computer- controlled laser, almost completely removing any margin of error, and the healing process is over in a matter of hours or a day at most.
When patients pay out of pocket, they ask what the price is for the procedure, and they shop around for the best quality at the lowest price. Both of these things only happen in a free market society with healthy competition. So, without government interference, most of us could afford our health care. The prices would drastically improve, not to mention incentives for better procedures and medicines. Granted, there will always be extreme cases where the measures taken are beyond a family’s ability to pay, but those would be far fewer; plus, these are situations where I would expect charities and churches to step up to help families in their communities as they already do.
So, no, conservatives are not hypocrites when they demand the UK continue to provide health care to little Alfie Evans. The UK government took that responsibility upon themselves and now must fulfill their obligation without refusing to heed parental prerogatives. In addition, when conservatives refuse to support socialized health care in the US, we are not saying what we have now is acceptable and right. What we are saying is we don’t want single-payer health care, and we don’t want what we have now; we want something better. Bring the free market back to health care.