Op-Ed: The Real Cost of Free

Harrisburg – When I think about something, anything, being free, I think of the air we breathe and water in a stream.  Not much else comes to mind. Certainly not healthcare nor education.

Yet, our airwaves are filled with programs that promise free healthcare and education. The problem is, both healthcare and education have delivery systems, and so each cost money.

Healthcare requires things like hospitals, emergency rooms, doctors, doctor offices, nurses, physician assistants, medicines, X-rays, MRIs, etc.  The problem is, each of these services and human medical professionals come at a cost.  So how can healthcare ever be free? 

Education requires things like schools and colleges and universities, buildings, administrations, and importantly, teachers and teaching tools—you know: books, pencils, tablets, computers, etc. The problem is, each of these services and human teaching professionals come at a cost. So how can education ever be free?

Hidden in the argument today for free healthcare is the true cost to each and every taxpayer in America.  The proposed Medicare for All scheme is estimated to cost between $28 to $32 Trillion (12 zeroes) in the first decade. Compare that cost to the total annual US GDP of about $20 Trillion and you get a sense of the costs to all of us to make healthcare “free”.

If you listen carefully, you can hear the footfall of Uncle Sam coming with a huge new tax bill for all of us—and not just for one year, but for every year in the future. Hidden also is the impact that nationalized healthcare can, and likely will, have on the quality and availability of healthcare.  Sure, we can achieve anything we have the will to do, including nationalized healthcare and maintaining the quality and availability of healthcare, but we must recognize there are huge new costs ($Trillions) to achieve these ideas. To be sure, healthcare is not now, and never can be free. Every taxpayer will pay many more taxes to achieve this dream.

Hidden in the argument for free education is the true cost; and as every property tax payer knows, the cost for the delivery system of education increases every year. Today some would argue we have a free K-12 school system, but really, property taxes pay for our K-12 schools. Some folks believe because they don’t get a bill called “K-12 Education” that it’s free. It isn’t!

Look at property taxes as the example. So when you think about free college, realize we will need a national program to pay for free college that will look much like a new, and very expensive property tax scheme, but national in scope. Be sure, existing or new taxes will be increased annually to pay for “free” college.

It is time we understand, when someone promises us something for free, we should not be fooled. When something is free, then we all pay for it. I personally believe those who today are promising you something for free will never deliver on that promise, due to the costs they today refuse to recognize and communicate to you. – Senator Bob Mensch (R-24)

For more information on Senator Mensch’s legislation, visit www.senatormensch.com.  State updates can also be found on Senator Mensch’s Facebook at facebook.com/PASenatorBobMensch/ or Twitter @SenatorMensch.


CONTACT: Madison Scarfaro mscarfaro@pasen.gov  (215) 541-2388