Libertarian Views on HealthcareFrom a release presenting Libertarian Party beliefs, explaining libertarian views on the subject. The application of the philosophy as expressed by the Libertarian Party or others may or may not universally represent what is a libertarian view on the topic for all adherents.
Virtually every person wants access to quality healthcare at an affordable price. Libertarians think the best way to achieve this is by removing government interference and enabling free markets.
Government inappropriately controls our healthcare in many ways:
Government and a handful of insurance companies have a virtual monopoly as payers. Because of this, they make most of the decisions about what kinds of healthcare are available.
Government regulates where, when, and who may open new healthcare facilities.
Government agencies greatly slow development of and access to new medicines, devices, and technologies that may improve quality of care and reduce cost of care.
Currently, the healthcare industry is virtually monopolized by the government and a handful of insurance companies. They hold the checkbook and wield it for their own benefit.
Each year, the government sets prices that they will pay providers including doctors and hospitals. Each year, these payments increase at less than the cost of inflation, while the cost of providing medical care increases by a far greater amount. This has unpleasant consequences for everyone. Providers are incentivized to do what is quick and cheap, not what is in the best interest of a particular patient. Doctors are forced to reduce the time they spend with patients, and this reduces quality of care. Hospitals are discouraged from upgrading facilities, and this reduces quality of care. Worse yet, insurance companies often set their payments according to the government’s prices. This regular ratcheting down on payments to providers, while actual costs to provide care increases, makes providers less able to provide high quality healthcare.
Government also regulates where medical facilities can be built, who can build them, and when. The process for applying for permission to build facilities is very costly and very slow, thus it favors the biggest corporations and prevents smaller organizations from opening new facilities that could serve patients. This greatly limits patients’ access to medical care and increases costs compared to a system where government permission was not required.
Institutions such as the Food and Drug Administration also limit cost-effective access to quality care. The approval processes for new drugs and technology is lengthy and expensive. Because of this, the process favors the biggest companies with the most lawyers. There are many stories of patients dying while waiting for approval of a new device or medicine. Instead, Libertarians call for free-market testing which will be inherently incentivized to be efficient and fair in their processes. Additionally, Libertarians believe in the “Right to Try”, especially in situations with a terminal diagnosis. The government must not be permitted to deny patients access to new medical advances.
Tort reform would also greatly reduce the cost of health care. The current tort system raises the cost of care by
encouraging unnecessary testing and procedures which increase the cost of medical care by forcing medical teams to devote significant time and resources to preventing or defending against unwarranted legal actions. When legitimate claims arise, they should be taken seriously and resolved fairly through the courts. However, frivolous and fraudulent claims should not be tolerated, as our current system does. These disparage our healthcare providers and the quality of medical care they can provide and that we can receive. Libertarians oppose fraud in all forms.
In short, Libertarians believe that each person has the right to make their own medical decisions. Libertarians support removing government meddling from healthcare. We think this and tort reform are the best ways to improve quality of healthcare, increase access to healthcare, and decrease prices of healthcare in our country.