Libertarians usually are strong critical of government financed health-care. Under this ideology, what would a person with a health condition that is out of pocket have to do to treat do under the libertarian system? Is this a case where the minimal libertarian government would have to intervene, or would such a person be doomed?


3 Answers 3


What you are asking for is government charity. Libertarians don't believe in government charity but in private charity. So the person would have to raise money privately.

Another alternative is to loan the person the money and collect from their future income.

Another alternative is to buy medical insurance ahead of time. Then the insurer would be responsible for paying.

If the person did not buy insurance ahead of time, cannot borrow money, and cannot get charitable help, then perhaps the person is doomed. Of course, in a libertarian society, people wouldn't be able to say, "Well, the government should take care of that." So you might find that it was easier to get charity and loans in that circumstance from people who now have more money left after not spending it on taxes.


In a libertarian society, government, if it existed at all, would not engage in:

  • Poverty assistance
  • Fully or partially subsidized medical care
  • Fully or partially subsidized medical insurance
  • Medical licensing
  • Regulating medical insurance
  • Regulating the type, number, curriculum and admission statistics of medical schools
  • Regulating the manufacture of food and drugs
  • Regulating the manufacture of durable medical equipment

Instead, these activities would be provided by:

  • Private charities
  • Fraternal Organizations
  • Cost sharing organizations
  • Certification organizations
  • Industry associations
  • Insurance companies
  • Voluntary contracts
  • Consumer watchdog groups
  • Consumer purchasing preferences
  • Social norms

It is believed among libertarians that these voluntary organizations are superior to government solutions in every meaningful way and there is a good deal of empirical evidence to support this belief.

If you categorized all the necessities vital to survival that are more important than medical care they would be:

  1. Air to breath
  2. Protection from extreme temperatures
  3. Potable water to drink
  4. Food

Yet as vital and important as these necessities are, few seriously advocate that government ought to be the primary or even a secondary provider of these things. And in fact, most government attempts to provide these essentials have resulted in oppression and misery.

In case you find the libertarian position heartless and callous, I'll point out that I have a son with a terminal illness that requires expensive ongoing treatment just to maintain quality of life. I was not a libertarian when he was first diagnosed and sought out all the government programs my taxes supposedly supported. What I found was that all of these programs are not designed to help prevent those teetering on the edge of poverty from falling into it or to help those already in it to escape it but merely to make it more comfortable.

I was repeatedly told by well meaning social workers that if I just gave up and stopped trying I would qualify for numerous government handouts. And I have witnessed first hand the perverse incentives these programs create. Imagine taking your child to physical therapy and listening to other parents brag about all the government assistance programs they're enrolled in then watching those parents drive away in their high priced luxury sedans and SUVs.

But when my back was against the wall and a pile of medical bills were hanging over my head private charities stepped in where the government would not. Unlike government programs which have a limitless supply of taxpayers to squeeze or monopoly money to print out of thin air, private charities have limited resources and are dependent on the generosity of others. I knew with each grant or assistance payment that it might be the last one. They'd helped me through an unexpected hardship but at the same time conditioned me to expect and anticipate those hardships before they happen.

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    Yet as vital and important as these necessities are, few seriously advocate that government ought to be the primary or even a secondary provider of these things. And in fact, most government attempts to provide these essentials have resulted in oppression and misery. Huh ? "Government" provides drinking tap water here and it's just fine, really. Makes life much easier than back when they had to use wells etc...
    – Bregalad
    Jan 19, 2018 at 7:12
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    a very US centric response, in many other countries, you would never had bills to request aid for in the first place, nor to the government, nor to private charities.
    – CptEric
    Jan 19, 2018 at 12:49
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    Also, I believe this answer is a comes from a very specific flavor of libertarianism (which is fine, but should be noted). This seems to lean towards the "privatize everything" thinking and, alas, doesn't actually hold up to your hypothesis as Bregalad points out. If you look at any nations happiness index, you'll find the nations that actually embrace doing all the above at a government level are the happiest.
    – user1530
    Jan 19, 2018 at 22:14
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    @GabrielDiego the system is also strongly regulated in other countries,maybe even less than in USA, but in favour of the "general interest", not the big pharma corporations. do these corporations still make money? hell yes, a ton, enough to still try to buy hospitals as soon as they can. so everybody wins.
    – CptEric
    Jan 20, 2018 at 21:28
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    "It is believed among libertarians that these voluntary organizations are superior to government solutions in every meaningful way and there is a good deal of empirical evidence to support this belief." -- Uh, citation needed. Your only evidence to support your view seems to be a personal anecdote.
    – C. Helling
    Apr 19, 2018 at 16:12

A libertarian will say "Let the person die".

You can check here



Although others have pointed out that in a libertarian world, healthcare would be potentially cheaper, still it is true that world does not subsidise people who are unable to

earn money by their own work please enough of other people to give them money please others to provide them the service (for example, in this case he could request the hospital stuffs and doctors to kindly do him this favour, he could make his message more emotional and appealing to those with good hearts)

Libertarianism, free market capitalism and evolution go hand in hand together. It is always the elimination of the unfit, giving way to better and fitter beings.

I just want to explain that this is a very reasonable position.

Say you are not libertarian. Say you know that many people are sick in Africa. What is your solution? You let them die right? Would you bend over backward ensuring that every expensive disease of africans should be cured with your money?

Why should it be different for your fellow citizens? There are indeed some differences. Your fellow citizens can vote and you want to win their votes. However, libertarians do not count that. Non libertarians also don't admit that's the issue.

So let them die is pretty standard among libertarians.

Every one of us will die. Yes, an infinite amount of money can keep us alive. But even toward our own selves, one day we will have to decide. Do I want to live another year or do I want to inherit money to my children?

That should be up to individuals, not up to the government. Your government may think that the life of your dad is not as important as the life of other welfare kids. Your government may tax you and give the money to support those welfare parasites. And that's just one problem in united soviet socialist of America. People fear death panel or sort of.

But even if you think that the government should do something about it. Why stop at fellow citizens? Why not go all the way giving money curing all diseases in the world.

Not even the liberal think that people must cure all diseases in the world.

The liberal think that people must cure and fed all people in their own country.

Why? I don't think it's mercy. If it's mercy, then a starving kid in Africa would deserve the best health care as much as a homeless bump in New York.

It's not mercy. It's politics. The homeless bump in New York is a citizen that can vote. So he uses his voting power to get medical treatments.

That's all.

Maybe I should be clear that we let the person die as in we don't have an obligation to help him. Especially not if it's costly. Of course, if his kin or clan or wife or child help him, there will be no problem. I interpret this "can't afford" to mean nobody is helping.

If nobody is helping, then he's doomed. The government shouldn't be able to tax someone to pay the bill. Nor should the government prevent aids and help from coming.

Governments often do both. During the Tsunami in Aceh, help is coming but the government prevent helps from reaching to avoid Christianization.

Actually, I am not fully libertarian. If I see someone have an accident I would call cops or ambulance. A law requiring that isn't too bad. The same if there is an earthquake or something.

However, if it's not an accident and the guy is just sick, I don't think I am obligated. I may help, but I am not obligated nor should I force people to support through tax.

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    "A libertarian will say "Let the person die"." That's what a social darwinist would say. Mar 22, 2019 at 19:12
  • why don't you ask other libertarians
    – user4951
    Mar 22, 2019 at 19:41
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    My grandma died, I didn't ask for your money. Why should I care about your grandma?
    – user4951
    Mar 22, 2019 at 19:42
  • Just because you self-label as a libertarian doesn't mean most other self-labeled libertarians hold the same views as you. Witness the more upvoted answers here. One can be a neo-Nazi and call himself the "Scottish Dawn" or some other label that's nonsensical to most others. Mar 22, 2019 at 19:48
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    Letting the sick died may seem like a wrong solution. So what do you want? A death panel? Where the state rather than your merit decides who die? Even if I am not a libertarian, I will see that there is no other way. Also if I were a communist, I would still vote for capitalism because it's capitalism that'll get the poor rich.
    – user4951
    Mar 22, 2019 at 20:09

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