Friday, July 31, 2009

The Uniqueness Of The American Health System

Viewed by someone on the outside, as well as some on the inside, the only unique thing about the American Health System is that it's majorly fucked.

A closely related rhetorical device — the idea that Americans or American values are “unique” — also deserves attention. For example, Emanuel describes individualism and equality of opportunity as “uniquely American.”1 Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, asserts that a public–private hybrid is essential because it is a “uniquely American solution.”3 Others describe rugged individualism as a “uniquely American” value that makes us “reluctant to provide our tax dollars to support someone else’s health care.”4 Such defiant-sounding assertions imply that “uniqueness” is a matter of pride and an end in itself. But these generalizations are impossible to prove, a distraction in the debate, and ultimately irrelevant. What is relevant is whether a solution works, not whether it is unique. Indeed, the aspect of the current U.S. system that is truly unique among developed countries is its failure to cover everyone — hardly something to brag about. Brett, “American Values” — A Smoke Screen in the Debate on Health Care Reform, NEJM:July29,2009. [Emphasis E@L]

Much as I whinge about Australia, at least I can rock up at any A&E (EMD) and once triaged I can (eventually) get looked at, regardless of my insurance status.

This is a great article about the health care reform debate going on in rugged, individualistic America at the moment, and it's free to everyone at the incredibly well respected New England Journal of Medicine, as if you haven't got enough to read on the topic as it is!



savannah said...

i've started a letter writing campaign asking why ALL americans don't have access to the same medical care as our elected officials. xoxo

Skippy-san said...

But you miss the real point-America is so divided politically that getting anything done is impossible. The people on the right, who oppose health care reform really believe that if one does not have insurance-its all that individuals fault. And they deserve what they get.

Don't underestimate the effect of what passes for journalism here either. That "S" word makes it hard too. Or the effect of just sheer greed-most of the Tea baggers are "I got mine-so screw you" type of people.

expat@large said...

Sav: because their elected officials are doing nicely thank-you from BigPharma and the McHospital lobbyists...

Skip: do these anti-'S' people realize that their rugged, individualistic country's health-care is a complete laughing stock, expensive and useless? As you say they don't care because... see comment to Sav.

Unknown said...

It has nothing to do with rugged individualism and equal opportunity for all and everything to do with being brain washed. Some suit says "giving in to universal health care is akin to socialism" where socialism is polite American colloquial for communism. I'm surprised someone hasn't made the argument "give in to universal health care and next they'll be coming for your guns" yet.

The U.S. doesn't care what the rest of the world thinks because the great bloviator Ronald Reagan told everyone that it's perfectly okay to feel superior to everyone else even if it's not true because greed is good. Oh wait, I think that last bit is from "Wall Street". Nonetheless.

My aunt, who will be 81 this year, said to me recently "why don't you stay in Europe and become a citizen there? This country [the U.S.] is going down the tubes fast."

Me? I'm waiting for China to show up on Washington's doorstep with a truck full of Treasury debt saying "we foreclose. All your bases are belong to us."

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