Treason
Is America a Sick Society?

Hayek on Health Care Reform

As the Senate considers removing health coverage for 23 million Americans in the name of greater freedom, it is well to recall what Hayek wrote in a much-poorer England during war times:

“It will be well to contrast at the outset the two kinds of security: the limited one, which can be achieved for all, and which is therefore no privilege but a legitimate object of desire; and the absolute security which in a free society cannot be achieved for all and which ought not to be given as a privilege-except in a few special instances such as that of the judges, where complete independence is of paramount importance.

“These two kinds of security are, first, security against severe physical privation, the certainty of a given minimum of sustenance for all; and, secondly, the security of a given standard of life, or of the relative position which one person or group enjoys compared with others; or, as we may put it briefly, the security of a minimum income and the security of the particular income a person is thought to deserve. We shall presently see that this distinction largely coincides with the distinction between the security which can be provided for all outside of and supplementary to the market system, and the security which can be provided only for some and only by controlling or abolishing the market.

There is no reason why in a society that has reached the general level of wealth which ours has attained, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom. There are difficult questions about the precise standard which should thus be assured; there is particularly the important question whether those who thus rely on the community should indefinitely enjoy all the same liberties as the rest.[1] An incautious handling of these questions might well cause serious and perhaps even dangerous political problems; but there can be no doubt that some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody. Indeed, for a considerable part of the population of this country this sort of security has long been achieved.

“Nor is there any reason why the state should not assist the individuals in providing for those common hazards of life against which, because of their uncertainty, few individuals can make adequate provision. Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state helping to organise a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong. There are many points of detail where those wishing to preserve the competitive system and those wishing to supersede it by something different will disagree on the details of such schemes; and it is possible under the name of social insurance to introduce measures which tend to make competition more or less ineffective. But there is no incompatibility in principle between the state providing greater security in this way and the preservation of individual freedom. To the same category belongs also the increase of security through the state rendering assistance to the victims of such "acts of God" as earthquakes and floods. Wherever communal action can mitigate disasters against which the individual can neither attempt to guard himself, nor make provision for the consequences, such communal action should undoubtedly be taken.”

[1] I There are also serious problems of international relations which arise if mere citizenship of a country confers the right to a standard of living higher than elsewhere, and which ought not to be dismissed too lightly

--Chapter 9, The Road to Serfdom

 

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Healthcare for any administration is a thorn issue and well there is no one approach that is considered a gold standard. But its of importance to public health

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)