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Home > Op-Eds: 2011
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Who Is Responsible for Your Health Care?

By Richard E. Ralston
December 26, 2011

What do politicians call it when they force you to buy health insurance (or anything else) every day, for the rest of your life?

They call it "personal responsibility."

How do they get away with that? Can anyone remember a time when personal responsibility referred to what we each think that we should do? To what we individually decide is the right thing to do? When exactly did it come to mean "obey orders," or "do what you are told or pay a fine—and go to jail if you don't"?

Politicians try to get away with such an outrage by first corrupting a range of more fundamental principles. A prime example is the charade of a supposed "right" to health care. In practice that means everyone should demand that medical care be provided to them by physicians and hospitals at no cost to themselves—even if they take no responsibility for protecting their own health, even if they don't give a damn about their health or the cost of their own negligence, even if they don't lift a finger to help themselves. After all, they have a "right" to health care, don't they?

Of course, no one and no government can afford medical care that would meet these demands. When a system that pretends to do so is enforced, patients will soon discover that they actually have no access to any medical care at all—except what the government decides to permit.

Those who resist government force but really do take responsibility for themselves are condemned as greedy for money by those who are greedy for power.

When did "what I must demand" replace "what I must earn"?

Why have those who only want to seize and redistribute wealth replaced those who admire producers of wealth—such as quality medical care providers? In what kind of world does that exist? Only in a world in which achievement is condemned as persecution of those who achieve nothing, and wealth is condemned as theft by those who create nothing.

We cannot assume personal responsibility for our medical care by abdicating the freedom to make our own decisions about it. We must reject the demands of those demonstrating in the streets that we surrender our own medical decisions to them. No one has a right to take away our health care choices any more than they have a right to make us pay for a home they cannot afford, or pay off the loans on their Ph.D. in Romantic Poetry, or to be given a government job, or, as we have heard more recently, to enjoy a "right" to free government diapers.

We can assume responsibility, however, by eliminating the restrictions by state insurance commissioners on our ability to find affordable insurance. We can assume responsibility by eliminating the power of the Food and Drug Administration to withhold life-saving drugs from terminally ill patients until after they are dead. We can assume responsibility by repealing thousands of pages of laws and regulations written by those with no competence in regulating anything, let alone medical care. We can assume responsibility by recognizing the tremendous value of those physicians and others who create our medical care—and by respecting their rights.

To preserve our medical care, as well as all the essential aspects of our lives, we must utterly reject those who promise to fulfill all of our needs if only we hand over all of our freedom. There can be no greater personal responsibility.

Richard E. Ralston is Executive Director of Americans for Free Choice in Medicine.


Copyright © 2011 Americans for Free Choice in Medicine. All rights reserved.
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