Our Cultural Assumptions stop us from achieving Universal Health Care

Image by Jacobs School of Engineering UCSD

American attitudes dissuade citizens from having a universal health care system (UHC). Those beliefs have outweighed considering the health benefits gained from providing affordable health coverage to every citizen.

However, since the Affordable Care Act was passed, there has been greater acceptance of moving our nation’s health standards to what citizens enjoy in other economically developed democracies. Still, two beliefs continue to resist universal health care.

The first belief is that America is the greatest nation in the world, and hence our health care is better than anywhere else. Second, collecting taxes makes for a big government to interfere in people’s private lives.

Those beliefs are not evil but are stopping our healthcare system from being universally accessible to all Americans. Consequently, let’s examine how each assumption is challenged by how our healthcare compares to other nations’ healthcare plans.

Being the Greatest Nation has limits.

The belief that one’s country is a unique great nation is a sentiment other nations have also possessed. Britain, Russia, Germany, China, etc., sometimes believed they were the greatest. And each declined as they limited what they were willing to learn from other countries. We need not make that mistake.

We are the wealthiest nation in the world, measured by both GDP and per capita GDP. Moreover, our federal military and health budgets are roughly equal. However, compared to other developed democracies, our military’s performance is unmatched, while our health care is dismal.

Our politicians, for the most part, have shunned investigating how other nations have surpassed us in delivering health care. As a result, Americans are only aware of the difference from other countries once they experience receiving health care elsewhere. Of course, each person will have a different experience, but they will all be starkly different from how they are treated in the US. For example, you can read about the experience of two of my readers with universal health care (UHC) in Italy and Germany here. I invite others to submit their stories to me, and I’ll post them on my website under the tab Resources.