From the moment the Affordable Care Act was first passed, conservative critics of the law have cried foul, deriding the President as the law as “socialist” – claiming that the ACA is the next step toward socialized medicine.
Well, there’s probably a few socialists out there that are offended by that statement. In fact, Greg Pason, the national secretary for the Socialist Party says that “Obamacare cannot be considered socialist in any way.” I would think that Greg Pason might know the definition of socialist, but if you don’t believe him, try this on for size.
Socialized systems don’t rely on health insurance – at least now how it’s provided in the United States. Socialized medicine (think the United Kingdom or Canada) is: 1) publicly-funded, 2) national health care system, and 3) supported through progressive taxation.
Sound familiar? No? That’s right – because it’s not how we do things in America. Under the ACA, health care is largely being delivered by private practitioners and hospital systems – not a national health care system. Insurance is being provided by private insurers – something the ACA encourages by creating health insurance exchanges to promote insurance run by capitalist insurance companies. The ACA is actually creating a health insurance marketplace, increasing competition among insurance providers and decreasing monopolies – the complete antithesis to socialism.
Requiring everyone to carry insurance doesn’t equal socialism. In fact, one could argue that the system in place prior to the passage of the ACA was tantamount to socialism. Socialism, by definition, involves the redistribution of wealth from the haves to the have nots. Let me explain. In a nation where nearly 50 million people are currently uninsured, if one of those uninsured has an accident, the rest of us end up paying for it – namely through inflated medical costs and higher insurance premiums. With the inclusion of the individual mandate, the ACA is basically requiring those receiving “welfare benefits” – those who’s uninsured care is being paid by the rest of us – to pay their respective dues. (Personally, I don’t really view being uninsured as that great of a “welfare benefit” since medical care often bankrupts these individuals – but I digress.)
Additionally, when the details of the law were being ironed out, the Obama administration initially floated the idea of having a federally offered insurance plan that anyone in the United States could purchase. That “public option” was quickly dropped from the law as there was concern it would be perceived as “socialist” and step toward single-payer health care.
It’s far too soon to know if the Affordable Care Act will work, and much more likely that further revisions will be needed. The only thing for certain is what it isn’t – socialism.