One thing to be considered if a person decides to take charge of their own health in a libertarian society is that once you make the decision to take care of yourself without paying a doctor is that you have assumed responsibility for any possible consequences. This is not something that people should take lightly. However being responsible for what happens is the “other side of the coin” when you desire the freedom to make your own decisions regarding your health and its proper maintenance over your life time. Otherwise you’re better trusting your doctor, although that is be more costly than doing it yourself.
This means doing the necessary study to know what you are doing and when the situation is beyond your own skills to deal with the issue. Take the issue of medications. Do you know the side effects of the medication you have decided to use? For example, the medication generally used to deal with the aches and pains of arthritis can effect your stomach, especially if you take them without first eating a meal. There can be an effect on the liver and kidneys depending upon the medication in question. Possible problems with your heart can arise depending upon the selected medication. The risks from the common OTC medications are somewhat less, but taking aspirin or Motrin or Aleve can effect the stomach if taken without food. Certain supplements also effect things. To learn what the effects are will require that you do some study. Read the warnings that come with the medication. Visit “WebMD” for more data. Read the “user reviews” to learn more about what sort of problems the drug of your choice might cause. You can check for reactions from one medication with another. Some medications do not “play well” with others. You can also access other sites by searching for them using “Google”. You can never know too much when it comes to your own health, even if you still rely on a doctor to take care of things. Unfortunately doctors are too pressed for time to be able to know exactly what problems you may encounter with any certain medication. So knowing “where” to obtain the necessary information is important so that you know what you are dealing with here.
You should also consider that some common prescribed medications can have adverse effects. For example, blood pressure medications can cause you to become dizzy when you stand up suddenly. The accepted blood pressure level of 120/80 is not always desirable for everyone. Some people, especially seniors, may experience a certain amount of dizziness caused by a fall of blood pressure when standing up. Seniors “falling” is more common now than it was before the medical profession put everyone on these medications. It is perhaps interesting to note that NASA considers a blood pressure of 130/90 to be acceptable, and in the past, yet higher blood pressures were accepted. Medical standards are not anywhere as “standard” as you might think. There are “trade offs” involved. Is the risk of falling due to lack of sufficient blood pressure greater than the risks of having a blood pressure higher than today’s recommended level? Various medications for pain control may very well also shorten a person’s life span. There are a whole lot of these type issues in medicine today. Much of this will eventually end up being the individual’s right to decide for themselves.
The opinions of health insurance companies are likely to be along the line of “least risk” in that they have an obligation to pay benefits, one that they will seek to avoid if possible. In a libertarian society where the medical profession does not enjoy a legal monopoly over access to medical drugs as they do now in our “statist” society, there might be better “solutions” to the issue of paying for health care than those we currently have today. I’ve mentioned these in previous posts. Health savings account, loans, perhaps belong to some organization devoted to “health sharing”. In the past there were fraternal organizations that hired a doctor to take care of the members of the organization. No doubt various “solutions” to the problem of health care costs will arise once the power of the state is no longer in control of the health care system. We must be realistic about these things and not expect miracles. On the other hand the sort of national “medical monopolies” we have will no doubt come to an end, opening up the cost controlling benefits of medical “free trade”.
These are all issues that libertarians should be considering now even if we do not yet have the right to make some of these decisions for ourselves. There is also another factor to be considered. Roughly 1/3 of all health care services in the US are likely unnecessary, and in fact occur just because it puts money in someone’s pocket because they have power over you. Medical fraud has been estimated at 10% of our total $2.7 trillion dollar health bill. Of course when Obamacare kicks in, this figure will doubtlessly go even higher yet, especially as there can be no doubt that those “on the inside” will find means of “milking the system” for all they can get. There is also an issue that medical mistakes now cost an estimated 100,000 lives a year, an almost unbelievable figure. That’s about three times the number of fatal automobile accidents, three times the number of fatal shootings in total. Thirty times the number of Americans killed on 9-11-2001. No doubt some accidents are unavoidable, but that is still a large number, evidence of an unacceptable level of carelessness.
For those curious, I recommend obtaining from your public library the four books written by Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh. There are others such as “Overdosed America” by John Abramson which should be of interest. For anyone willing to search through a state public library system like we have here in Michigan, there are many more.