Hornberger's Blog

Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
Here's the RSS feed or subscribe to our FFF Email Update to receive Hornberger’s Blog daily.

Is America’s Healthcare System Socialism or Not?


In the healthcare-related controversy over whether President Obama is a socialist or not, it would be better to ask a more fundamental question: Is America’s overall healthcare system socialist or not.

Why is that important?

Three reasons.

First, socialism always produces chaos and crises.

Second, socialism cannot be fixed or reformed and any attempts at improving it only make the situation worse.

Third, if a doctor gets the diagnosis of an illness wrong, it’s likely that he’s going to get the prescription wrong as well. The same applies to the diagnosis and treatment of what ails the American body politic.

As everyone knows, for decades America’s healthcare system has been characterized by never-ending and ever-growing chaos and crises, especially with respect to constantly soaring healthcare costs. That should give us a hint on whether America’s healthcare system is free enterprise or socialism.

Moreover, no matter what healthcare reform is adopted, the chaos and crises only get worse, with the most recent example being Obamacare. That should give us another hint as to whether America’s healthcare system is socialist or not.

If America’s healthcare system is founded on socialist principles rather than free-market principles, then the next obvious question arises: Why not simply repeal and dismantle the socialism and embrace a free market in healthcare as the cure for what ails the body politic? That is, why not rid our society of the disease rather than trying to sustain, improve, or reform it?

So, what’s the answer? Does America’s healthcare system — which is founded on such massive government programs and interventions as Medicare, Medicaid, medical licensure, healthcare regulation, insurance regulation, and income-tax manipulation — constitute socialism or free enterprise?

Perhaps an examination of the healthcare systems of four communist countries, all of which, of course, are based on socialist principles, might help us to answer the question. From Wikipedia:

Cuba: The Cuban government operates a national health system and assumes fiscal and administrative responsibility for the health care of all its citizens.

North Korea: Healthcare in North Korea includes as national medical service and health insurance system. North Korea’s government claims that it provides universal health care for all citizens.

Vietnam: The Ministry of Health (MOH) is the government ministry responsible for the governance and guidance of the health, healthcare and health industry of Vietnam. In conjunction with other ministries and the prime minister’s office, the Ministry is responsible for creating and promulgating long-term health policy programs such as the “National Strategy on Nutrition for the 2001 – 2010 period” and the “National Policy on Injury Prevention 2002 – 2010.”

China: China’s government, specifically the Ministry of Health of the State Council oversees the health services system, which includes a substantial rural collective sector but little private sector. Nearly all the major medical facilities are run by the government.


This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.