So what do proponents of government health care think of John Edwards' proposal for mandatory doctor visits and diagnostic tests? Isn't there a certain logic to this? If health care costs are going to be collectivized, then don't the rest of us have the right to demand that you behave in a way that does not waste our money? If I am to be my brother's keeper, then don't I also become his master?
Why would these mandates be limited to things like annual check-ups and mammograms? Why wouldn't I also want to insist that you stop smoking on my dime? Lose weight?Stop having unprotected (or promiscuous) sex? Limit your drinking?
It reminds me a bit of Ann Coulter's response to Libertarians who wanted her to endorse the legalization of drugs in return for the party's nomination for Congress. She said that she would do so as soon as she was no longer required to pay for the social costs of drug use.
We hear that they don't do these things in other single-payer systems and that may be so. But they do place a collective cap on health care costs and then ration care in a way that makes HMOs look warm and fuzzy. I keep hearing that we aren't going to do that. In any event, we see employers increasingly concerned with the personal behaviors of their employees and a major presidential contender proposes that we start down that road.
If you believe in collective responsibility for the cost of health care, what are the principles limiting collective judgments about behavior that affects the cost of care? Do we draw a clear line and say that people can do whatever they want to themselves? Is it really possible to maintain that position?