US Healthcare Bill?

Seems like a good thing, as far as it goes— but I’ll readily admit to not understanding all the issues here. It’s a bit baffling from this side of the pond. The bill is basically about ensuring universal health insurance coverage, right? That sounds like a good idea, although it certainly won’t be enough (assuming that improving the overall health of the American population is your aim). I’ve seen stuff like this before, and the people over at Effect Measure seem to agree.

What seems really strange is the shrillness of the protests. Those crowds on the streets, likening healthcare reform to some sort of a constitutional coup:

I certainly wouldn’t recommend the UK NHS as an ideal model for a healthcare system, but we manage to keep people fairly healthy and it doesn’t cost too much. It’s a bureaucratic mess with a top-down, command-and-control structure at its core, now hopelessly mixed up with a dog’s dinner of half-baked market-flavoured initiatives. Yep, fairly socialist in its inception, and not as efficient as it could be. Perhaps look to continental Europe, Canada or Australia for better ideas. But c’mon: whatever kind of a system the US ends up with, keep it in proportion. It’s just health services trying to keep people well, not a Boot Stamping on a Human Face Forever.

In many respects the UK is more free market/capitalist-oriented than most other nations (US excepted of course), but back in the late 1940s a decision was made to reform healthcare in a particular way, by a government with a clear democratic mandate. It hasn’t worked out so badly. People know they have a right to free healthcare, and the strength of public feeling is such that almost the first statement of every incoming government of any hue is to commit itself ‘to the principles of the NHS’ or somesuch. The violent feeling of the US anti-healthcare reform protesters, as portrayed in the UK media anyway, seems bizarrely disproportionate. Do Americans really have such a different attitude to health?

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