Myth 30. Healthcare reform is not “socialized medicine.”


Many critics of the Democrats’ “healthcare reform” call it “socialized medicine.” Advocates respond, condescendingly, that since the government would not own the means of production, and physicians would not be salaried by the American equivalent of the British National Health Service, this is not socialism. Physicians and hospitals would still be “private,” as in Canada.

So let’s work backward: Start with the definition, then think of the word. These are the characteristics of the plan. It is: (1) compulsory; (2) redistributive; (3) collectivized; (4) centralized; (5) dictatorial; (6) oppressive; and (7) intrusive.

Even if there is as means of opting out and seeking private care, everyone will be forced to pay, either through “premiums,” taxes, or both.

Effective premiums, net of subsidies, will be based on income, and are thus a mechanism for redistributing wealth.

Not only is payment collectivized. The whole ethic of medicine is to be transformed. Physicians are to be held responsible for optimizing the health of the state, and patient care is to be prioritized on that basis. The individual patient may be sacrificed to the good of the whole.

Planning is to be centralized. Thousands of decisions will be delegated to the Secretary of Health and Human Services or other unelected federal executive agencies.

Decisions will be immune from administrative or judicial review, as well as from political influence. The power of the Secretary or Board is supreme and absolute.

Everyone will be subject to constant reporting requirements: to the IRS for determining premiums, subsidies, and compliance with purchasing requirements—and to “health plans” for determining “eligibility.” Before each and every encounter, the plan’s infrastructure will enable a decision about whether a particular patient is “eligible” to receive a particular treatment from a particular provider at a particular time—as well as the charge and the responsibility for payment. Penalties for failure to report, or inaccurate reporting, are very severe. Clearly, “universal coverage” does not mean universal access to care, but rather barriers and checkpoints at every step.

To enable the detailed calculus of benefits and payments, monitoring will be very intrusive—hence the requirement for everyone to have an electronic “health” record, which could include practically anything of interest to the government, including gun ownership or political attitudes.

The Democrats’ “reform” empowers the federal government to control all Americans, whether as patients or medical professionals—and one-sixth of the economy. As most people are willing to spend their last dime for medical treatment that could relieve pain or extend their lives, what better source for extracting the revenue to keep the bankrupt federal government, with its 20 million mostly overpaid employees, functioning for a few more years?

The plan fulfills the fundamental axiom of socialism: from each according to his means, and to each according to his need, with terms defined by the central planners. “Socialized medicine,” however, does not adequately describe this plan. It is even more audacious than a Ponzi scheme, as it attempts to postpone the real emergency—the day of reckoning for earlier Ponzi schemes—beyond the next election.

The word is “tyranny.”

Additional information:

Worst features of the Reid plan from the AAPS virtual reading room.


  1. Perhaps Democrats recoil at the terms “socialism, communism, Marxism”. If they falsely believe the government will not be owning physicians, why is the government laying the groundwork for complete control. Fascism is when government distributes special benefits to certain entities. Certainly certain entities, such as the state of Nebraska, will reap benefits that other states will subsidize. Whatever label one wishes to apply, isn’t it strange that voting occurred in the middle of the night, and that certain non-repealing and non-amending measures were applied!! Is this still a democracy? If so, why hamstring future congresses, which should be entitled to amend and repeal any legislation the majority wishes to.

  2. The statements above are, in essence, correct.

    Communism, Socialism, Fascism — they are all forms of political collectivism based on the Marxist credo: from each according to his ability – to each according to his need. There is another term for it: altruism (“other” ism), which was coined by Auguste Comte. The meaning of altruism is that self-sacrifice is considered the supreme good, and selfishness is regarded as the supreme evil.

    In none of these three political systems is there any essential difference. All require government “ownership” (actual ownership requires the recognition of private property, which is the right of use and disposal) of the means of production, and individuals in those systems are not regarded as private any longer. The state regards the individual as property of the state.

    Communism and socialism are more honest about what they claim to be: they admit that no one has a private life any longer, and that all goods, services, and human beings are the property of the state. One may argue, as I do, that this is evil, but it is also honest.

    Fascism, however, is both dishonest and evil. The fascists claim that there is such a thing as private property, with all the responsibilities of ownership, and the facade of ownership — yet, the state controls the “owner’s” every decision on penalty of fine or imprisonment (or both).

    In the ultimate analysis, there is no real difference between any of these systems. All hold human beings as right-less. Individuals cannot act freely provided that they respect the rights of others; now they can only act with permission from the state.

    And this is where medicine is headed — formally, legally, and disgustingly.

    For any of you out there who still give a damn about the principle of individual rights, first recognize that when the state clams it owns you, it is no longer a legitimate government; it no longer is a moral-political system proper to mankind. It is only a question of how to replace it with good government, not whether to replace it.

    What kind of government is proper to man? Complete, unregulated, laissez-faire capitalism for the sole purpose of the protection of individual rights. Until capitalism is restored to America in medicine and in all other forms of production and trade, we who love her must fight for her in any legal way possible. Moreover, we must fight with the certainty that our cause is just, because it is not only just, it is also moral.

    Mark A. Hurt, MD

  3. If ever there was a time for a universal physician strike with caveats, it is now. Not only is this so called health bill injurious to the profession but all patients will truely suffer in the name of pure cost and political control. I’m for the evidenced based medicine approach to control cost and improve quality. This bill is taken right out of the Nazi handbook. Americans not long ago willingly fought this type of tyrrany. We can and should do it again.

  4. I say throw the bums (the democrats) out in Nov 2010. It will take the federal government decades to write the rules and regulations – as has occurred with all legislation in the past 30 years. So there is time to get their power-grabbing pronouncements repealed. I will defend the constitution and everyone’s individual rights to the death – as our forefathers had to do – and show these demeanors of liberty to the U.S. Capital door! The federal government has no constitutional power to usurp states’ rights. So let’s take them to court now and save ourselves a lot of future headache. The Democrats very “debate” is unconstitutional because of its backdoor deals and secrecy.

  5. To paraphrase Fred Barnes, this is the first time an entitlemment program has been forced down the throats of the American people. Most Americans do not like what they have witnessed in terms of the back room, behind closed doors deal making that has characterized the passage of this health care reform monstrosity.
    As Charles Konia has noted, this is ‘freedom peddling’ on the part of politicians and reflects the helplessness of the american people. If, what has been predicted by those who have looked at the consequences of this disasterous piece of legislation, it not only adds to the deefcit and saddles furture generations with enormous debt while diminishing individual freedom and increasing govern

  6. George B. Hughes, M.D. says:
    December 25, 2009 at 9:10 pm
    To paraphrase Fred Barnes, this is the first time an entitlemment program has been forced down the throats of the American people. Most Americans do not like what they have witnessed in terms of the back room, behind closed doors deal making that has characterized the passage of this health care reform monstrosity.
    As Charles Konia has noted, this is ‘freedom peddling’ on the part of politicians and reflects the helplessness of the american people. If, what has been predicted by those who have looked at the consequences of this disasterous piece of legislation, it not only adds to the deficit and saddles furture generations with enormous debt while diminishing individual freedom and increasing governmental control then what has happened can very well be an example of the Emotional Plague.

  7. So we have agreed that this bill is coercive, antiAmerican, probably unconstitutional and socialist. Let’s stop talking and do something about it. Let us pick a strike date in early January and refuse to see any government patients: Medicare, Medicaid, or Champus. And publicize ti and stick to it.The aim will be to kill the bill in conference.

  8. As Dr. Hurd points out, collectivism is collectivism regardless of the political form of implementation. In ObamaCare, socialized medicine is being brought in through the back door of fascism. Let’s hear it from an expert.

    The fascist method was explained by a former leader of a major Western nation some time ago:

    “The party is all-embracing…” said Adolf Hitler upon taking power, “Each activity and each need of the individual will thereby be regulated by the party as the representative of the general good…This is Socialism- not such trifles as the private possession of the means of production. Of what importance is that if I range men firmly within a discipline they cannot escape. Let them own land or factories as much as they please. The decisive factor is that the State, through the party, is supreme over all, regardless of whether they are owners or workers…Our Socialism goes far deeper…[the people] have entered a new relation…What are ownership and income to that? Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings.” (From Herman Rauschning’s The Voice of Destruction, as quoted in The Ominous Parallels, by Leonard Peikoff, page 231-232.)

    And why bother to socialize health insurance companies and hospitals? ObamaCare is socialized medicine, period.

  9. If you’re against this bill, what are you folks for? The status quo? You think the current system works? All I’ve read from you is anger at what is proposed but no reforms of your own. People are dying in this country because they don’t have health insurance and can’t afford health care. And judging from the comments here, you’d yank what safety net there is because it is “socialized” medicine. Medicaid, Medicare, government-run hospitals and clinics should all disappear. Those against reform say there are emergency rooms available for those who don’t have coverage but you know better than most, that that is not true. And the very law that opens up emergency rooms, EMTALA, is another example of socialized medicine. I do not believe that you are uncaring. But I do want to know how you would fix a system that is undeniably broken.

  10. Mr. Hurt, your replies are so spot on it gave me goose bumps. Fascism, National socialism (Nazism), socialism, communism are all collectivist systems. All just different variations of the same thing. They are not opposing, they are competing. They could not be any further opposite of classical liberalism, libertarianism, and true American conservatism.

    Thank you for saying it so clearly and concisely.

    I will add some quotes to the mix

    “Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes…In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (l926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud.” – Benito Mussolini

    “…All property is common property. The owner is bound by the people and the Reich to the responsible management of his goods. His legal position is only justified when he satisfies this responsibility to the community.” (Ernst Huber, Nazi party spokesman; National Socialism, prepared by Raymond E. Murphy, et al; quoting Huber, Verfassungsrecht des grossdeutschen Reiches (Hamburg, 1939)

    Adolf Hitler, whose National Socialist (Nazi) Party adapted fascism to Germany beginning in 1933, said: “The state should retain supervision and each property owner should consider himself appointed by the state. It is his duty not to use his property against the interests of others among his own people. This is the crucial matter. The Third Reich will always retain its right to control the owners of property.” (Barkai, pp. 26–27)

  11. Gotta love Congress. They’re gonna raise taxes and reduce our monthly pay. What do you think employers will do when their expense per employee goes up?

  12. Wow. I’ve always known that many of my colleagues were in it for the $$$. Granted, most of these comments were posted before the current bill passed, but the ignorance and paranoia here is breathtaking. Except for a modest expansion of Medicaid benefits, there is no “centralization” of health care, no government takeover, and definitely, truly, nothing to be excited about.

    My son, now six months, started having seizures the day after he was born, and his subsequent care in the NICU (only 8 days!) totaled $106,000. How many of you here can afford to pay a bill like that? You think that the welfare of my newborn child should be subject to the “free market?” Do you have any moral standards or empathy in any way whatsoever?

    I hope I don’t work with any of you, because I wouldn’t risk my patient’s life letting you take care of them on call. Your stockbroker might call you with a great tip while they’re coding.

  13. sublimaze,

    Did you read your son’s hospital bill? Was the cost justified? If so, what are you complaining about? If not, what have you done about it?

    Yes, $100K for 8 days in the NICU is steep, but a) that is what insurance is for, and b) what about your situation makes anyone *else* responsible for your son’s medical bills?

    I believe we have a moral and ethical duty to care for each other. When you take the next step and make it a “legal” duty, and put elected officials in charge of determining how much each of us is required to “contribute” to the care of others, you create a system where individuals get elected based on the promises to take from a relatively wealthy few, and give to a relatively wealthy majority.

  14. To Mudwall:

    You make the mistaken assumption that healthcare is a right. It is not. You also take away the opportunity for people to assist with healthcare through charity and instead impose mandatory income distribution to pay for it. Also, you should more closely examine the reason the system is “broken”. If you do so honestly, you will find that it is government interference that is the root cause:
    1. ENDA imposing higher administrative fees on doctors for “compliance”
    2. Failure to pass medical malpractice reform
    3. Emergency rooms that are mandated to treat anyone who walks in regardless of ability to pay, citizenship status
    4. Emergency rooms that can not refer patients to outpatient care for non-life-threatening situations, ie non-emergencies
    5. Government law prohibiting nationwide competition for insurance.

    Government is the main cause of higher medical costs, and now we are supposed to accept a takeover of the system by the very people who are causing the problem in the first place? I don’t think so.