Edward Crane and the Libertarian Perspective on Healthcare

Ed Crane is the founder and president of the Cato Institute. Under his leadership, the Cato Institute has grown to become one of the nation's most prominent public policy research organizations. Crane has been a pioneer in framing the political debate as one, not between liberal and conservative, but rather between civil society (the voluntary sector) and political society (government power). He was at the forefront of promoting personal accounts in lieu of the current Social Security system, and was one of the first national leaders of the term limits movement. Crane is the coeditor of several books, publisher of Regulation magazine, serves on the Board of U.S. Term Limits, and is a member of the Mont Pelerin Society. He is a chartered financial analyst and former vice president at Alliance Capital Management Corp. Crane's writing has been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the New York Times and Forbes. He has been interviewed on NPR's Morning Edition and Talk of the Nation, C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, and other media. Crane holds a B.S. from the University of California, Berkeley and an MBA from the University of Southern California.
  • Transcript


Edward Crane:  Well, I don’t think equality is a proper goal of society; I think freedom is.  And I think when you talk about the right to health care, you’re talking about forcing people to provide it.  But I think one of the problems that’s not recognized in the current move toward more government control over health care is that a lot of very smart people who might be wonderful doctors are becoming investment bankers, because they just don’t want to be a government employee.  And I think the freer and the more open health care system we have, ultimately the cheaper health care will be.  It’s interesting that two years ago the Canadian Supreme Court overturned the prohibition of private health insurance in Canada. And the rationale was a case that was brought that some guy who had an immediate need for hip replacement was told by the National Health Service in Canada that he had to wait two years.  And so his doctor actually went to law school to figure out how to do this and took the case and went to the Supreme Court, and they voted four to three, and I’m sure all seven of them were Socialists that you’re right.  Even though the Canadian Constitution says you have a right to health care, it also says you have a right to life.  And if you’re standing in line for your free health care and die, then your right to life is denied.  And that is true in England.  The waiting lists are appalling.  As P.J. O’Rourke once said, “If you think health care is expensive now, wait until it’s free.”  And I believe that.  I think we need health savings accounts.  A major way to reduce the cost of health care in America would be to get rid of the restriction on only buying health insurance within your own state.  If there was competition for-- between the states for people to buy health insurance, there would be a demand for health insurance plans that met the needs of consumers.  I mean, if you’re in New York, you’re paying for God knows what in terms of mandated benefits.  And so it’s incredibly expensive.  So I think that would be an instant way to do it.  But the main problem with the cost of health care in America is third-party payers, whether it’s the government or insurance companies.  And that’s why we have always supported health savings accounts and people having control over their own health care expenditures.