Presumably, most people who walk into a drugstore want to make sure that the medications they pick out and/or are prescribed do pretty much what it says on the package and won't make them horribly horribly ill when they weren't expecting it. To do that, medications are subject to a rather elaborate testing and regulatory framework to make sure they are, in the classic words of the United States Food and Drug Administration, "safe and effective". The process is complex and time consuming, and occasionally corrupted by drug company pressure, and it does occasionally let through a bad drug like terfenadine, or rofecoxib, or thalidomide. But it's the best we have right now.
Similarly, medical journals and interest groups spend a great deal of effort making sure that medical knowledge works, that procedures and devices are safe, and that as much is known as possible about the human body, and that the people who practice medicine stay within the bounds of what is known to work. These bodies inspect hospitals and nursing homes to make sure their conditions are suitable for patient care, and accredit medical schools to make sure that prospective doctors are getting the best education that money can buy. Some of them also make sure that well-trained doctors are sent out into places where modern medicine is not available to make sure that even the poorest get the best medical care they can get. These principles are known as evidence-based medicine and are our best insurance against returning to the days of bloodletting and the four humours.
There are those who think the above is a bad idea. For them, we have the concept of "health freedom".
 Our topic
"Health freedom" is a typical example of emotional appeal and argumentum ad populum — rather than try to prove that their nostrums actually, you know, work, alties and quacks advance the notion that people should have the right to choose whatever medical care they wish without regard for regulatory authorities or evidence. Immense amounts of effort have been expended by such people to get the authorities off their back, generally using libertarian and free market principles to argue that bad medicine will ultimately be shaken out of the market or appealing to conspiracy theories about the Medical Establishment and Big Pharma. To someone concerned about freedoms and uninformed and/or hopelessly cynical about medicine, this all sounds very good.
It should be pointed out that this freedom is not intended to be universal. If you ask an altie if they would be happy for big pharma to market drugs with the same lax regulation the alties demand for themselves, the answer is of course "no". What they want is a level playing field with one end higher than the other, and them always playing downhill. And ideally the other team not allowed on the pitch until they have brought the right shrubbery.
So what's the harm? More freedom is better, right? Welllll...
To a point. But freedom must be tempered with information, and part of the point of the medical regulatory establishment is to make that information available. The existence of information contrary to alties' claims is inconvenient for them. Attacks on the medical establishment, imperfect as it is, are often no more than a thinly veiled demand for a complete free-for-all where snake oil vendors get free rein alongside (or, more often, instead of) pharmaceutical companies and informed consent goes by the wayside. Sooner or later the consumer must ask whether they are getting all the information they need, and for some quack to be selling toxic or injurious drugs or treatments while trying to suppress (by lawsuit or smear campaign) negative results is impairing the consumer's ability to be informed. It's very easy to go to drugs.com and get scads of information from multiple sources on any drug, including dosage, adverse reactions, and even chemical makeup. It's not so easy to get that information from an herbalist, who may not even know what the active component of a particular herb is. It's certainly not that easy to get it from someone like Kevin Trudeau, who is a known con man who plays off people's fears of the medical establishment but will give you nothing if you don't pay for it.
And at the end of the day, these people who promote "health freedom" (at least those who aren't hypocrites) will suffer the same diseases you get, only some of them will have them much worse due to avoiding vaccinations, cancer chemotherapy, psychotropics, and the like in favor of herbal and homeopathic nostrums and highly questionable practices. Their kids will be at risk of preventable infectious diseases due to lack of vaccines and overuse of antibiotics. They may suffer nutritional deficiencies from questionable diets.
Remember, then, when you hear the term "health freedom", that's not the whole story. There's a lot going on under the surface — like US Christian fundamentalists' attempts to bleed the public school system dry by siphoning federal and local money off through vouchers for private religious schools, "health freedom" advocates wish to have unfettered, uninformed access to the doctors and patients in the world without any interference from authorities and experts.
And in fact the "freedom" which health freedom activists want, appears to be of a restricted sort. When asked if they think that "Big Pharma" should be free to sell its products without regulation, the answer isa resounding "no". This is justified by appeals to the naturalistic fallacy: the products advocated are natural and therefore safe. Like anthrax, botulism or ebola, then, all of which are natural and thus obviously quite harmless.
So as with most such exercises in political framing, health freedom is in reality just special pleading, an attempt to free quacks, charlatans, frauds and people playing doctors at the risk of others' health, from the unwelcome attention of regulators and the reality-based community.
 The quack-libertarian alliance
"Health freedom" is often thrown around in libertarian circles, the idea behind it being that the government should not have a role in regulating or ensuring any quality control in medicine. Thus, crank sites like NaturalNews will tend to promote libertarian candidates and libertarian outlets like those run by Lew Rockwell will give a platform to quacks. There are also hard right organizations like AAPS that adopt this philosophy.
 See also
- Health Freedom USA, typical "health freedom" quack site
- Martin Walker: A Bibliographic History of the Health Freedom Movement
- "Health Freedom", Quackwatch
- The Wonderfully Orwellian Free Speech About Science Act of 2011 (H.R. 1364), Respectful Insolence
- Freedom of Informed Choice, Skeptic Report