argument top image

Should healthcare be free?
Back to question

Free healthcare means worse quality

It is impossible to have high-quality healthcare without paying high healthcare costs. Free healthcare will inevitably mean a sacrifice in quality.


A publicly-funded health system generates less money than a private health system that can make substantial profits from patients. The government is therefore forced to take a utilitarian approach and ration treatments based on a cost-benefit analysis.

The Argument

It is not possible to have a highly efficient, high-quality health system that is free at the point of use. Publicly funded systems cannot generate the funding required to offer the best healthcare solutions available. Countries with healthcare systems that are free to the public end up rationing medical services. The most expensive treatments are often unavailable to the public if the government determines that the costs of the treatment do not outweigh the potential benefits. The only way to maintain a health system of the highest quality is to have the patient pay at least some of their healthcare costs.

Counter arguments

There is no guarantee that a health system that requires individuals to pay for their treatment leads to better and more efficient services. Healthcare companies are not required to reinvest their profits in their product. They can, and do, funnel that money to owners and shareholders without using it to improve their product. In a private system, there are also still barriers to the best treatment options. The only difference is these barriers are financial. Under both systems, a poor person without insurance cannot access the best treatment options available. Having more care doesn't mean better care. Private companies have an incentive to have more patients and charge to dispense more drugs, more surgeries, more expensive tests. But doesn't mean the system has better outcomes for it; it simply makes more money for hospitals, surgeons and caretakers.



[P1] A free health system does not generate the same revenues as a for-profit system. [P2] Therefore, it does not have the same sum of money to reinvest in refining and improving the product. [P3] Therefore, a for-profit health system will always be of superior quality to a free health system.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] A free health system will be accessible to all members of the population, thus increasing the overall productivity, generating revenues outside the health system that benefit the whole society. [Rejecting P2] There is no guarantee that a medical company will put any of the revenues into refining the product. [Rejecting P3] It is possible to finance healthcare from other sources of revenue; centralized healthcare doesn't need to be a closed system.


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 4 Nov 2020 at 17:14 UTC

Explore related arguments