A thought-provoking article from February 2013 by Rituparna Basu debunks 2 popular misconceptions: 1) that the US health care and health insurance system operate according to a system of private property and free market principles, and 2) that ObamaCare is a system of "socialized" medicine.
Rather, a careful look at the facts and history of US health care reveal a more ominous, little recognized, third alternative:
"There was much fear when Obamacare was being debated several years ago that it was going to turn American health care into socialized medicine. In 2009 Mackey, too, compared it to countries with socialized medicine, such as the United Kingdom.
Of course, Obamacare did not deliver us socialized medicine, in which most hospitals would be owned by government and most doctors would be government employees. The majority of hospitals in America are still privately owned and so are insurers and drug companies. Many doctors are in private practice.
But though our health care institutions are privately owned, they are most certainly not free to be privately run. Take health insurance, for example. Obamacare dictates to health insurers the policies they can sell, what they may charge, to whom they must sell, how they must organize their finances, how much profit they can make–and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Doctors must prescribe government-approved treatments, or suffer financial penalties. Hospitals and drug companies have their own set of controls they must work under.
The government is the one calling the shots in health care today, dictating to those in the industry how they must run their businesses. And what’s crucial to know is that the government’s entrenchment in health care precedes Obamacare—health care has been a mostly controlled industry for decades.
A social system in which property is nominally privately owned but property rights can be overridden by government dictate is properly described as fascist, a term that became widespread in the 1920s to describe the system of state control in Mussolini’s Italy. According to one encyclopedia:
Under fascism, the state, through official cartels, controlled all aspects of manufacturing, commerce, finance, and agriculture. Planning boards set product lines, production levels, prices, wages, working conditions, and the size of firms. Licensing was ubiquitous; no economic activity could be undertaken without government permission.
This description is not far from the state of American health care today.