This is a nice thought, but there are a ton of issues with it. I do think we can do more to help people who can’t afford more expensive healthcare, but it’s not that simple.
For example, what’s a “reasonable price ceiling?” Who decides it? What things are covered under subsidized medical care? For instance, a million-dollar experimental chemotherapy regimen that makes you go from a 2% chance of surviving a rare cancer to a 2.5% chance?
I also don’t agree with the dichotomy that subsidized healthcare and capitalism are fundamentally at odds. There can absolutely be capitalist subsidized healthcare, and there can be non-subsidized healthcare that isn’t capitalist. I’d argue the current system in America is not even a functioning capitalist system, because there’s effectively no free market. People tend to get the health insurance their employer gives them (no option to walk away, hence no free market), or can’t afford it in the first place (also no free market). And I’d argue without a free market, a capitalist system doesn’t really function like it’s supposed to. Which is why I think it’s important for people to be able to be in control of their health insurance so if what they’re given isn’t meeting their needs, they’re free to go elsewhere, forcing insurance companies to adapt to compete.
That said, I think regardless of one’s views regarding boots and the strapping thereof, it’s in everyone’s interest for basic, preventative care to be subsidized. Even if you are purely selfish, providing even one checkup a year and free basic drugs (which are decades old and dirt cheap) would cost not even a fraction of what it costs hospitals and taxpayers when people end up flooding the ER with easily preventable problems. At my hospital, almost none of our patients pay because almost none of them can. Whenever a patient comes to the ER, it’d be an actual crime to turn them away even if we know for a fact they don’t have money or insurance. And ER care is expensive. So what happens? We treat them, and the hospital (run by the city government) eats the cost. Which it has to recuperate elsewhere, or with taxes. All while the patient is buried under destroyed credit. Who wins in this situation? Nobody.
The government doesn’t have infinite resources to solve everyone’s problems so it’s true that we can’t go all-out with everything, but if something helps people and it saves rather than costs money, what’s there to lose? There’s room to debate how much further than this we should go, but I feel like if people could set aside their gut feelings about government-subsidized things, we could cut costs simply by keeping people out of expensive ERs that drain hospital resources.