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Inherent in universal health care plans are price controls. By bundling patients together under major health care insurance providers or the Federal government, patients gain the ability to collectively bargain with doctors, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, and nurses, lowering the cost that these people and companies can charge for their services. By this method, more people are able to get more health care at a lower cost, with the sacrifice being that we can no longer use market mechanisms to influence our health care system.
Conventional market economics will suggest that this is an outright bad idea, since market mechanisms are more responsive and elastic than asymmetrical bargaining. However, this can be dismissed as a serious rebuttal since health care markets are already deeply distorted by complicated insurance systems and the AMA cartel controlling doctor credentials.
But, there is an important practical and philosophical problem which this poses.
Price controls are by default inclusive of wage controls, meaning that we will be controlling the potential wages of doctors and nurses. The practical problem will be that talented people who are considering careers in medicine will choose other, more lucrative fields instead. This has been true even within the medical field; in Japan, for example, the top students have been gravitating towards plastics and other specialties where price controls are not in effect. While certainly, many people will remain in difficult but price controlled specialties such as cardiology, obstetrics, and oncology due to the challenge and the more noble desire of doing as much good as possible, this effect is real and documented.
I find the philosophical problem more challenging. Namely, what right do we as a society have to dictate that individuals, by fact of their occupation, are not entitled to seek market value for their skills and labor?
There is some precedent for this situation. We do not, for example, allow former military personnel unrestricted access to the market for their skills. But in that case, the skills were acquired at public expense.
What I am curious about, since this is a community which supports universal health care, is in philosophical arguments about moral rights of the state (and its people) versus the moral rights of individual doctors and nurses. This is not a means test of universal health care programs; that they will expand the amount of health care provided at a bearable cost should be considered for the purposes of this essay a given.
Anyone have any thoughts?