The battle between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton amounts to a debate over who’s the more socialist. Take Obamacare. Bernie Sanders wants to trash the whole mess. He wants to fully replace it with single-payer, Medicare for all.

On the premises Sanders and Clinton share, this makes total sense. Is health care a right for all, something government must provide? Yes, say both. Should the government pay for health care? Yes, say both. Should government have monopoly power over the provision of health care, as Medicare already does for seniors? Yes, say both.

So if you answer “yes” to all these questions, why wouldn’t you be in favor of what Sanders proposes and Hillary Clinton rejects?

Health care either is a right, or it isn’t. If it is, then government should provide it for everyone, on demand at no cost. However, the government does not actually provide health care. People have either already paid for their own, via taxes, or others have paid it for them. It’s a delusion to think government pays for anything.

The only requirement for socialized medicine is … to be alive. Once you’re born, you’ve got coverage. Does it ever occur to advocates of socialized medicine why we don’t do this with other things? With cars, for example? Or with food? You require food for life. Yet, while we have food stamps, we do not have food as a birthright. We do not have single-payer groceries. Just imagine what that would look like.

To discover why, all you need do is look at the history of any Communist or fully socialist country. It all ends in calamity and despair. Why? Because when people are told not to be responsible for something, they tend to stop thinking about it. They will focus on other areas, because medical care and health insurance are not something to concern them; not if the government provides it by right.

Instead of fighting over Obamacare, the two parties should look at Medicare. Medicare is beyond broke. It cannot sustain itself. Why? Because the amount of money paid into the system by present-day working people’s payroll taxes is not enough to meet the demand. Retirees feel a sense of “having paid into” Medicare, and for the ones who worked and paid taxes, they are correct. But that money they paid into Medicare was long since spent on older retirees, most of whom are long since dead. Today’s Medicare-eligible count on today’s working, tax-paying people to cover the cost.

The Medicare “trust fund” is a total joke, as it’s constantly going broke and serves as a vivid reminder of how government promises more than the people are willing or able to pay. Even if today’s Medicare-eligible really had paid for all present-day Medicare services, it would not be nearly enough. That’s why the government runs such a high deficit and the national debt has spiraled out of control. Entitlement programs are killing us, and they’re not even part of the Constitution. National defense is, and we’re letting our defense capability go to pot.

We keep hearing how this year’s election is about the “establishment” politicians versus the outsiders. But I don’t hear either side tackling Medicare. It’s not that Medicare is the only important issue. But entitlement programs are the reason our federal government is fiscally out of control. It seems to me that anti-establishment candidates would question sacred cows such as Medicare. Even Donald Trump will not go there.

Ironically, Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who looks at the fundamentals. He claims, “We shouldn’t nationalize medicine piecemeal; we should take it over completely.” Ideologically, Sanders is completely wrong. People do not have a morally justifiable reason for using government to force others to pay for their health care. And if they already pay for their medical care through taxes, they have a right to opt for purchasing medical care on a free market instead. Doctors likewise have a moral right to sell their very important services on a free market. Their skills, minds, bodies, and years of specialized training do not belong to the government; they belong to doctors themselves. Patients should want it this way, because doctors sovereign over their own destinies are also the most self-responsible and capable.

Bear in mind that a free market would look nothing like the government-dominated fields of medicine and medical insurance look today. It would be free and open competition. Charity would likewise be free and open, without all the red tape, centrally planned, command-and-control policies and procedures emanating from Washington DC. A free market would do for medical care and insurance what relatively free markets already do for smart phones, computers, groceries, automobiles, restaurants and so many other things. Instead of debating a free market for medicine versus socialism, we’re reduced to watching Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders fight over Obamacare versus socialism. But they’re essentially the same thing!

Socialized medicine is killing us. Sanders’ proposal would kill us even more, at an even higher price tag. Yet Sanders asks the right questions, while providing the wrong answers. If only Republicans would ask these same questions and provide the right answers, we’d be on our way to a moral and practical free market in medicine.

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Dr Michael Hurd

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

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