Q&A with Colin Gunn about implications of 'single-payer' health care
Michael Miller · Mar 26, 2019
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Single-payer health care, or its cousin known as “Medicare for All,” is being proposed as a solution to U.S. health care woes. It would put the federal government in charge of a significant amount of our health care, if not all of it. We at Samaritan Ministries are concerned that this approach would take health care in the opposite direction of liberty and destroy what health care freedom we have.
Five years ago, filmmaker and Samaritan member Colin Gunn released the film Wait Till It’s Free about the workings of health care economics and liberty. We asked him recently about his views on single-payer/Medicare for All, five years away from releasing the film that sounded the alarm about the problems embedded in our health care system.
What do you think has changed for health care freedom in general in the past five years since the release of Wait Till It’s Free? Are there any encouraging signs?
There is some positive stuff. Price transparency is probably one of the areas that people talk about more. There has been a change in the law in relation to that. I have seen a little bit more media on that.
I don’t have a huge, positive view of any significant change in the direction our health care is going. Understanding health care economics better still needs to happen. Just the rhetoric I see from politicians and on television, I don’t see them really getting it.
It’s in God’s timing. In the homeschool movement, you definitely saw a significant change over a 20- to 30-year period, with people taking responsibility for their children’s education. We’re not there with health care, though, where you see people saying, “I’m going to take this responsibility on myself. It’s going to cost me money, it’s going to be difficult, I’m going to have to work hard at it and I’m going to do it for the sake of my children.” We’ve not seen that in health care as much. Maybe on the personal health front, but not in terms of the economics of it and doctors themselves.
What would “Medicare for All” or a single-payer health care system mean for Americans? How do you think it would end up?
It would be a radical reduction in choice. If you look at what single-payer means, it means it’s run by the government—it’ll be inefficient, it’ll be dangerous, it’ll be politicized.
Politicians administer health care politically. That’s why in Britain you have this political football that is focused on bringing people sex-change operations instead of getting grandma back on her feet. There’s no political capital with helping the elderly, but if you come out and offer whatever trendy thing will get you press, what is fashionable, that is what happens. Politicians are concerned about re-election, they’re concerned about votes, so they are administering something politically with their cronies surrounding them rather than it being administered through the free market, which is the perfect choice for individuals.
If you look at what single-payer means, it means it’s run by the government—it’ll be inefficient, it’ll be dangerous, it’ll be politicized.
Our Veterans Administration medical system is like that. It’s the perfect model of what single-payer is like: the loss of choice, and, of course, the increase in taxes, the huge cost of it.
Socialist systems are in decline. Socialism works for a little bit of time until you have exhausted the capital of the system that preceded it. That’s where we’re at with Venezuela. It was a massively popular and great place to visit at one point. It wasn’t a paradise, but it had liberty. Now look at it.
Britain is very similar. Britain had this great health care system. It had the best doctors in the world on Harley Street. Its private system was world-renowned, but that capital has been spent. That’s what happens with socialism: The capital is all gone, so what we had was hugely diminished over time. That’s what America will see. We have been to some extent that haven of liberty, people coming from other countries and asking for treatment. We’ve been the center of research. All that stuff will go away, too.
Why isn’t this obvious to Americans?
Americans value—and it’s a big mistake—they value what they think is the most secure path, and the add-on to that is what they think is the secure path is given to them. They’re told what the secure path is, and it’s interesting because that sort of relates to treatment. They trust that the guy in the white coat will tell them they need this, this, and this. We’re trying to sell them this unusual thing (health care liberty), just like homeschooling’s hard to sell to people, too, because it was weird—“Is that legal?”
I think we’re at that stage with health care. Americans are following the secure model. They’re following what everyone else is doing. They’re following what the government tells them they should be doing. So a radical opinion, which is what I am essentially presenting to them, is very hard for them to understand. They trust the government, they trust institutions, they trust hospitals—there’s too much misplaced trust in these big institutions.
With the Brits it’s just pure statism. “Of course government can best administer health care.” I think the British people are the worst in the sense that every conversation on health care that I have with Brits, apart from a tiny handful of people, they just cannot even fathom what I’m trying to present to them. They just know I’m wrong. (Laughs.) They believe in this idea by faith that the government has to administer health care.
If you could update Wait Till It’s Free, what would you change or include?
I’ve become more aware of the stark difference between the established health care system and what the Christian alternative would be. Wait Till It’s Free dealt largely with economics, and while that’s important, I don’t think it’s an argument that easily resonates with people and that people really understand.
I do, more and more, see the need for a presentation of the antithesis between the health care system we have, which includes the economics of it, and what Christian health care needs to be. I’ve become more aware of that in relation to the health care establishment’s connection to our abortion holocaust and the loss of life that we have seen in our nation since Roe v. Wade. We’ve seen this moral disaster perpetrated in our nation largely with support from our medical establishment. That shows glaringly that the guilty party of our nation is not just an economic problem, but there’s a huge ethical problem in our health care system.
Abortion is the pinnacle of that, but there’s multiple areas of health care that are very clearly anti-Christian, which includes deception and theft, but also the proper view of man doesn’t exist. We touch on this in the film. But how they view man and then how they view the work of medicine is antithetical to a Christian system. We really need to look at how health care needs to change across the board.
What do Americans need to watch for in order to guard what health care freedom we still have?
A big thing in our film is personal responsibility and understanding the motives of those that are trying to take control of your health care, that you have to act with the best interest of your family and have Biblical wisdom. Prayerfully examine your choices in relation to health care and don’t just take it for granted that the system as it stands is what you need. The personal responsibility of taking care of your own health, your own family, takes a lot of effort if you’re going to break free of the system as it stands. As you know, just the simple act of walking into a doctor’s office and announcing that you’re cash-pay is a difficult thing. It’s a challenge to do it, because you’re doing something that no one else wants to do or thinks about or cares about, maybe even the doctor that you’re talking to. You may have more information on health care economics than he does.