One of the fundamental principles in economics is that goods and services are scarce. People want more than is available and therefore choices must be made.
The question is NOT "should things be rationed?" Rather, it is "How should things be rationed?"
This distinction is made clear to us every day, but possibly no more so than in the area of health care. When individuals are not required to pay for medical care, we tend to ask for more, better, and more expensive care. But the system simply cannot provide all of what we want at a zero price. And so choices must be made.
In many instances, who gets the goodies will be determined by who you know, who you are politically connected with, what your politics are.
In other instances, medical care will be rationed by our ability and willingness to pay (somewhat crass but realistic digression: if a given procedure will extend my life by 4 years and cost the gubmnt/taxpayers, say $400,000, I'll want to receive it; but if my heirs could have the money instead, I might choose to forego the treatment).
And in some instances, death panels composed of persons with medical training (and political connections?) will decide how to ration scarce health resources.
I have enough trouble with physicians who like to play god as it is. Giving them the ability and power to decide who should receive a heart, a kidney, or a cancer treatment adds to my concerns.
For example, consider this story [h/t Rebekkah]:
When Kenneth Warden was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer, his hospital consultant sent him home to die, ruling that at 78 he was too old to treat.
Even the palliative surgery or chemotherapy that could have eased his distressing symptoms were declared off-limits because of his age...
Thanks to [his daughter's] tenacity, Kenneth got the drugs and surgery he needed — and as a result his cancer was actually cured. Four years on, he is a sprightly 82-year-old who works out at the gym, drives a sports car and competes in a rowing team.
But it wasn't just her tenacity that saved her father. It was also her willingness to spend her own time and money combined with the fact that in the UK a private option to the National Health Service is available. In Canada, the gubmnt does not permit a private option.... unless you are willing to pay to travel to some other country (e.g. the US).
Everyone needs to understand that health care, like every other good or service, is being rationed and will always be rationed. The only question is how will it be rationed? And so long as we refuse to let people pay for their own health care, we will have death panels, like it or not.