Ironically, as the U.S. government has restricted the ability of patients to spend their own money on medical care, Canada’s socialized health care system is moving in the opposite direction. In a landmark case handed down in 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the province of Quebec could not prohibit its citizens from purchasing covered services through private health insurance. That ruling recognized that imposing limits on a patient’s freedom to spend his own money can result in his being denied crucial and even life‐saving medical services.
This threat to patients’ rights would grow under many proposals to have the federal or state governments provide universal coverage. Congress and the state legislatures should avoid universal coverage schemes that would undermine this fundamental human right, or tempt future legislatures and bureaucrats to do so. Instead, Congress should restore to American seniors the unfettered right to spend their own money on medical care.