Earlier this week we wrote about the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark “Hobby Lobby” ruling on religious liberty–both the ruling itself and some common myths about the ruling. One more myth worth addressing has come up a few times since then: The myth that a single-payer healthcare system somehow would have averted the Hobby Lobby ruling.
The logic seems to be that under a single-payer system the government would pay for every person’s healthcare; as part of that system, the government would pay for all forms of contraception–including abortion-inducing drugs, sterilizations, and other practices many find unconscionable. Theoretically, under such a system Hobby Lobby never would have sued, because Hobby Lobby would not have been paying for anyone’s health insurance–the government would have paid for it.
The problematic question is this: Under a single-payer system, who ultimately pays for everyone’s healthcare? Answer: Taxpayers.
The “single-payer argument” in the Hobby Lobby case fails to acknowledge that taxpayers can and do have conscientious concerns about how their public dollars are used. The “Right” does not have a monopoly on these concerns. Folks on the Left are just as concerned about the use of public funds as well. At the risk of stereotyping, we could say, for example, voters on the Right don’t want to see their public tax dollars used to subsidize abortions while voters on the Left don’t want their public tax dollars going to monolithic, mega-wealthy corporations. Regardless of the issue, Americans of almost every persuasion have concerns about the ethical use of their public dollars.
Giving our money to our duly-elected government does not absolve us of responsibility when it comes to how that money is used. Under a single-payer healthcare system, Americans still would have been concerned over what “healthcare” their tax dollars would and would not cover. Those concerns might not have been raised in the U.S. Supreme Court’s chambers, but they would have been raised and a decision would have been reached, just the same.