Obamacare: Pain or Prescription for College Students’ Ailing Futures?

By Rebecca Phillips

Have you ever heard of someone waiting 18 months to get an MRI?

It’s a frequent scenario in Canada, a country that is noticeably free in most respects. The exception is health care, which is controlled by the government.

But waiting 18 months for an MRI rarely happens in the United States. In fact, I’d go out on a limb and say it’s never happened in the United States…yet. This week, a crucial event is taking place whose outcome very well could be the difference between waiting 18 months or 18 minutes for an MRI. The United States Supreme Court has begun to hear the long-awaited arguments on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, popularly known as “Obamacare.” The Court is expected to rule in June.

It may be easy for college students to support Obamacare based on the idea that free health coverage for those who currently can’t afford it is a good thing or even a “right.” But according to John R. Graham, Director of Healthcare Studies at Pacific Research Institute, there’s poison in that prescription.

“A ‘right’ to healthcare is a positive freedom,” Graham said, “meaning that people (doctors, nurses, etc.) must give things to you for free. That requires government enforcement.”

In other words, the federal government takes control of your access to health care. It may sound harmless at first, but there is real-world evidence to suggest otherwise. Graham highlighted Canada, where the government has controlled access to health care for the past 40 years. The goal was to grant equal access to health care. The reality is equal denial. There is a lack of access to health care resources across the board. Patients have extreme difficulty seeing a specialist or even a primary care physician. OB/GYNs hardly exist. And receiving tests or treatments often takes exorbitant amounts of time.

Under Obamacare, these inefficiencies will become a very real threat to our own access to health care. “Obamacare is not an equilibrium,” explained Graham. “Government will need – and want – more control. It would eventually become a single-payer system.”

In college, with tests and parties and internships occupying your time, it can be difficult to envision the impact Obamacare would have on your immediate and long-term future. But college students, of all demographics, should be among the most concerned. Obamacare places a huge financial burden on businesses through taxes tying up funds that otherwise could be used to hire or to invest. If you think it’s difficult to find a job now, it will be significantly more difficult under Obamacare’s full implementation. Free health care sounds nice right now, but will it retain its luster when so many students have degrees and student loans but no job because businesses can’t afford to hire?

Ironically, one only has to look at the medical field for evidence. As Graham pointed out, these medical industries already suffer from heavy taxes – so much so that layoffs are gaining prevalence in medical professions from clinicians to research scientists. Students looking to enter the medical field will face an even bleaker job market under Obamacare.

There’s also your own health to consider. Forty or fifty years from now, you likely will need more substantial medical care than you have needed in your teens and twenties. Will you want to face the same time and resource constraints that accompany government-controlled access to health care? Even 10 years from now, you may hesitate to start a family because specialized prenatal and OB/GYN care isn’t as readily available.

A “right” to health care may sound like a good idea, but what about the government having a “right” to tell you what you do or do not have access to – whether that’s medical care, a job, or a family? It has been said that a government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have. Obamacare may force providers to expand their coverage on paper, but no one can promise you will get the treatment you need or the services you want – just look at Canada.

In the real economy, there is no such thing as “free” – it’s paid for by someone or not provided at all. When we cede individual control of our health care decisions to the government, the government decides who pays for what care, how much they will pay, who will get benefits, and when they will get treatment. When you are waiting 18 months for an MRI, the cost of “free” will be awfully high.

Come hear John R. Graham in person at the Freedom Foundation’s upcoming event for Obamacare: An Unhealthy Choice for America in Bellevue, Washington on April 19.

Rebecca Phillips is Student Freedom Project Coordinator at the Freedom Foundation in Olympia, Washington. She is a recent graduate of Berry College, Georgia, and a guest contributor for Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.

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Posted by at 04:30 | Posted in Economy, Government Regulation, Health & Human Services, Health Care Reform, Individual Responsiblity | Tagged , , , , , | 95 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Studentscholar

    How dare you question the motives of college students just wanting something for “free”. I am a poly sci major at PSU and I have student loans out the wazoo! I can’t afford health care, too. If those supremes toss this thing I am not sure what I am going to do for my free health care. Get a job? I don’t think so. Have you tried getting a job these days? Can’t. Won’t. Not gonna happen.

    Here is what I think. If people who don’t work can get paid for not working for over 3 years in many cases, why shouldn’t I get free health care during my college years? I am not that sick, and hopefully all I will need are the adjustments I get from my bone snapper and some counseling sessions for my eating disorder.

    Then a bit for dental and vision and I should not be a drain on society very much.

    I am in my 7th year of studies – no one at PSU graduates in four years. No one. Why would anyone do that? Then you are out of loan money – you should see the smoking iMac I got with my free loan money that I will never be able to repay unless I am lucky enough to get a job.

    One thing I have learned, though, in my major, is that politicians are only here for themselves, not for people like me who really need help, so I may run for office someday to help change that dynamic.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    In our society if you want something, thats want is called  a desire.

    If you want something really bad – lately that desire is called a right.

    It’s ridiculous. Your rights are singular unto you and according to our law granted to you by the Creator or Diety. Don’t believe in a God of your choice? Too bad, thats where you get your rights according to our understanding of them.

    You do not have the right to enslave others, which is what a right that compels action of another necessarily entails.

    If I have a right to housing, then obviously the right to enslave exists because someone must build my house.

    If I have a right to health care, then obviously the right to enslave exists because a right to health care is impossible without an ability to compel action by a doctor.

    This sort of compulsion can be done on a straight up basis – hi, you are a slvae, in the cage you go, out when I need health care. Or it can be done on a more subtle basis – hi you are a doctor, guess what, after all those years of med school, you have to work for the government, and you only are going to get about half the pay you would have gotten before all this rights stuff began.

    Hmm – I wonder if either of those two scenarios will impact what sort of doctors we get?

    I can already hear the excuses – “but we did it all with the best of intentions”

    The sad thing is that the clowns that think this sort of thing make sense sometimes do get their way and implement this stuff. It takes a hell of a long time to turn it around and correct it, if ever. Look at how long we will have wasted on BO Care should it be overturned. If that happens it will be one of the quickest corrections ever, but we still will have wasted 18 months of congressional time and close to four years of economic uncertainty due to BO care which people on both sides agree has been a drag on the economy.

    Would that this all be dealt with on a simpler basis rather than indulge the arguments of those who seem not to know what a right is, yet insist on using the term for any desire that pops into their head.

    In short – when someone stands up in congress, the senate or anywhere and states with high moral tone and pomposity:

    “for I am good, because I believe health care is a right”

    could that person be answered:

    “Proclaiming your ignorance does not establish greater morality, however thinking it does, establishes you as an idiot.”

    • 3H

      thats want is called  a desire.

      “Don’t believe in a God of your choice? (Why would I not believe in a God I had chosen??)”hi you are a doctor”  Shouldn’t there be a comma in there somewhere??People in glass houses….  ;)

      • Rupert in Springfield

         >””Don’t believe in a God of your choice? (Why would I not believe in a God I had chosen??)”

        Because one might be an atheist, thus amongst a choice of Gods, none would be believable.

        As I have told you in the past – think before posting. When the majority of your reply’s to me are nothing but dopey swipes like this, and you can’t even do that well, all it displays is your incompetence.


        • 3H

          Tough love.  It’s only because I care.  

  • http://www.forbes.com/2008/04/07/health-world-countries-forbeslife-cx_avd_0408health.html John Stanton

    Our health care system is good already. We pay less and get better care than any other country on earth. Everyone I know can see a doctor whenever they want and Americans are healthier as a whole than people in any other country. Look up the numbers yourself if you don’t believe me: we only spend 15 percent of GDP on health care and 83 percent of our people have health insurance. I’d put those number against anyone’s.

  • 3H

    “Have you ever heard of someone waiting 18 months to get an MRI?
    It’s a frequent scenario in Canada, a country that is noticeably free in most respects.

    No, it is not a frequent scenario, it probably has happened, but appears to be a statistical outlier. 
    “The median wait time for diagnostic services such as MRI and CAT scans  is two weeks with 86.4% waiting fewer than 90 days.”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_Canada#Wait_times 

    • Ramalama

      But we can’t let facts get in the way of a good argument here on OC. As we all know, reality has a liberal bias, so if conservatives are going to get their way, they have to fudge things a bit. Or maybe a lot. Or maybe just make things up entirely.

    • Jefftoaster

      Let me start by saying that only a fool believes everything he reads, and only a total idiot believes everything he reads on Wikipedia.

      Having said that, I went in and read the Wikipedia page you quoted beginning to end.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I can tell you what I found.  An article so skewed and biased in favor of Canada’s health care system, it reads like a propaganda piece spewed at full volume from the telescreen! (not familiar with telescreen?  read Orwell’s 1984).  And much like the party members hearing those fantastic facts and figures fudged by the ministry of truth, the liberals swallow the poison pill without a single thought that it might just not be the truth they’re swallowing.

  • valley person

    I thought the whole point of the conservative argument against Obamacare is that it isn’t free. That people are forced to buy health insurance.

    Which is it folks? Are you unhappy because it is free or uhappy because you have to pay for it?

    • Criminaltype

      I think we are unhappy because the whole thing is illegal.

      • valley person

        So, if the Supremes, 5-4 say it is legal, then you will be happy?

        • guest

           Soros to say, domebody else is doing the driving for that boy, vp. 

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