Free Medical Care: A Deal With the Devil?

AuthorSingleton, Marilyn M.

* Listening to the campaign promises spewed out by the bevy of folks running for president brings the old but enduring story of Faust to mind. Despite being successful, Faust wanted more knowledge and possessions. To that end, he made a deal with Mephistopheles (aka the Devil) who promised to give him everything he wanted in exchange for his soul.

Who isn't tempted by a bargain or better yet, something for nothing? Free income, free college, and free medical care. What do we have to lose? Self-respect, the opportunity to succeed at a career suited to one's talents, your privacy and control over your own body.

Intended to ameliorate poverty, universal basic income can be counterproductive. Some promise income for merely having a pulse and others envision the government equivalent of a mama bird regurgitating food into the open mouths of her chicks. Neither option gives a sense of pride and accomplishment or the foundation for character development.

The high cost of college is the justification for free tuition. One key reason for the continually escalating tuition is readily available student loans: no matter the cost, the student can continue to borrow. Endless direct-from-the-government money would likely cause further increases. Further, one-third of college students drop out. The majority of these students were poorly prepared for, and not fully committed or suited to college. It is a bad idea to remove an incentive for perseverance, allow uncommitted students to waste their time on the government dime, or worse be stigmatized as a failure. Finally, as Senator Amy Klobuchar bravely pointed out, the taxpayers cannot afford it.

With regard to medical care, all "medically necessary" health services, including dental, vision, hearing, mental health, long-term care, home and community-based services, physical therapy, prescription drugs with no premiums, deductibles or co-pays from cradle to grave sound pretty good. Sold! Frankly, given the direction so-called reproductive health is going, you may never make it to the cradle. And with the current laser-focus on hospice for all, you may get to your grave a little faster.

Will free medical care halt one of the biggest drivers of poor health and medical costs? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 40 percent of people in the United States are obese. And 47 percent of our $3.5 trillion per year of healthcare spending goes to treat the effects of obesity, with another...

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