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Banning private health care kills: Equality at the cost of human lives

Imagine that you have worked hard and saved money so that you can achieve your goals and enjoy yourself but also to be equipped to deal with any surprises life might throw at you. You have had your annual check-up with your doctor, and he calls you back after results of the blood tests are in. Something is amiss and he suspects it is something potentially life-threatening that would require treatment soon. To confirm his diagnosis, the doctor needs you to have a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Your two choices are to wait about nine months to have the scan done in the public health care system (nine months is the average wait time in Alberta, my home province) or to pay about $700 and have the scan done within a week at a private clinic.—How would you feel if your doctor now told you that the private option has just been eliminated, out of the initiative of medical regulator of the province, for the sake of equality?

Last month, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, the organization that registers and regulates doctors in Alberta, proposed exactly that: elimination of privately provided diagnostic services such as MRIs and computed tomography (CT) scans as unethical (see the news story here). Their argument? That it is unfair to provide private diagnostic services because not everyone can afford them. And this comes from an organization that is supposed to give guidance to doctors, who are supposed to heal patients. What this proposal, if accepted as a guideline and transformed into a law, will lead to is not healing but killing patients. If timely diagnosis is not available, treatment is delayed and in life-threatening conditions may indeed come too late. See George Jonas’ column in the National Post about this here.

The Alberta medical regulator’s proposal to ban private diagnostic services is based on the evil anti-human-life philosophy of egalitarianism.  The College argues that if everyone cannot afford the same private diagnostic services, then no-one should have them; we should all be equally miserable. By preventing those who can afford private diagnostics from getting them, the College will indeed spread the misery by making the queues in the public system longer, making everyone’s treatments delayed, with the same deadly consequences. It is monstrous that an organization providing moral guidance to doctors is not advocating saving lives but sacrificing them.

By the principle of egalitarianism, you should not be free to spend your money on your own health care unless and until everyone else can afford the same care. By this same logic, if a patient breaks an arm, a doctor should go and break others’ arms as well—to make everyone equal. Egalitarianism is evil because it takes away individuals’ right to make choices about their own life and punishes them for hard work and responsibility. The proposal by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to ban private diagnostic services is doubly evil, because it will kill patients and also wipe out the private diagnostic clinics who have been offering their life-saving services based on voluntary trade. We should fight all proposals like this as gross violations of individual rights and threats to our lives.