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Is For-Profit Healthcare as Immoral as ‘Death Panels’?

August 16th, 2016

Stethoscope on a printed sheet of paper

My friend Matt notes that while this “isn’t exactly the ‘death panel’ that Fox News was trying to scare you with, [it] most certainly falls in to the category of fallout associated with nationalizing medical treatment”, in response to this Scientific American piece :

Hospitals across the United States are throwing away less-than-perfect organs and denying the sickest people lifesaving transplants out of fear that poor surgical outcomes will result in a federal crackdown.

One reply says:

I don’t disagree with some of your logic here, but I also feel that you would have to agree that healthcare based on profit is equally immoral

No, I don’t and you’re wrong.

In its current state, for-profit health care is not without problems — many of them — but this specific act is active and deliberate evil due fundamentally to the nationalization and which supplants even a person’s ability or willingness to pay, or to take on risk. It is a medical equivalent of cash-for-clunkers, of plowing under the fields even while millions starved during the great depression, or the oft-lambasted regulations which prevent grocery stores from donating produce, etc.

In these cases, there are some quantity of goods which people want and would be willing to take, but which are being deliberately withheld from them (and destroyed).

Now, you may counter that under the price system, some people may suffer or die as well because they can’t afford the service (why it costs as much as it does, and whether it ought to cost that much is a different topic). While you may prefer a different distribution of kidneys than the price system provides, it is absolutely without question that if there are fewer kidneys to go around because the hospitals are literally throwing them in the trash, fewer people’s needs will be met as a result.

I don’t see how death from “I can’t afford a transplant” is any worse, objectively, than death from “some panel at the hospital decided that even though I’d been on the wait list for 18 months, and was ‘next in line’ for a kidney, that someone else’s need was more urgent, so I didn’t get my transplant”. Especially when there will necessarily be more deaths arising from the latter than from the former.

no third solution

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