Democratic presidential nominee Sen. BarackObama (IL) has proposed an ambitious plan torestructure America’s health care sector. Ratherthan engage in a detailed critique of Obama’shealth care plan, many critics prefer to label it“socialized medicine.” Is that a fair description ofthe Obama plan and similar plans? Over the pastyear, prominent media outlets and respectablethink tanks have investigated that question andcome to a unanimous answer: no.
Those investigations leave much to be desired.Indeed, they are little more than attempts to convincethe public that policies generally consideredsocialist really aren’t.
A reasonable definition of socialized medicineis possible. Socialized medicine exists to the extent thatgovernment controls medical resources and socializes thecosts. Notice that under this definition, it is irrelevantwhether we describe medical resources (e.g.,hospitals, employees) as “public” or “private.“What matters‐what determines real as opposedto nominal ownership‐is who controls theresources. By that definition, America’s health sectoris already more than half socialized, andObama’s health care plan would socialize medicineeven further.
Reasonable people can disagree over whetherObama’s health plan would be good or bad.But to suggest that it is not a step toward socializedmedicine is absurd.