Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Hannum on Colorado Health Care Activists

Single payer advocate Kristen Hannum of the group Health Care for All Colorado recently discussed a number of Colorado-based health care activists on her blog. Most of the people she discussed were her ideological allies, but she did mention Lin Zinser and myself as representatives of the opposing viewpoint. She also criticized our article, "Moral Health Care vs. 'Universal Health Care'", calling our viewpoint "mean-spirited but also extremist".

I submitted a response on the comments page of her blog post, which she did post. Here are some excerpts from what I wrote:
I recognize that we are on opposite sides of this issue, and I thank you for linking to the article written by Lin Zinser and myself. I would like to make a few comments in response.

First, neither Lin nor I are Libertarians. Nor are we conservatives (i.e., we are not supporters of the political "right"). However, we are staunch supporters of individual rights.

Second, because you have mentioned the ethical dimension, I want to highlight the fact that our opposition to "single payer" health care (or any kind of government-imposed "universal health care") is based primarily on moral grounds.

I've written a FAQ that covers this issue in more detail, which arose from a letter of mine which appeared in the New York Times a few weeks ago supporting a free market in health insurance, and the from the multiple questions and comments I've received in return.

If anyone wishes to read it, it can be found on our website at:

"FAQ on Free Market Health Insurance"


I cover the moral basis for a free market combined with voluntary charity, and the reasons that any system of "universal health care" is deeply immoral.

...Finally, on a personal note, I am sorry to read about your brother's death. During my years of practice, I have reviewed hundreds of CAT scans of patients with both diverticulitis and appendicitis. Based on what you have written, it looks like your husband's death may have been the result of a misdiagnosis and/or delayed diagnosis, rather than due to a lack of access to a physician.

If this was a misdiagnosis, then this is a separate issue unrelated to issue of "single-payer". The issue of misdiagnosis and/or delayed diagnosis is extremely important, but it will also arise in *any* medical system, regardless of the economics of the insurance system.

Paul Hsieh, MD
Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine
(In my original comment, I mistakenly referred to Paul Hannum as her husband; in fact, he was her brother.)