While British voters can look forward only to the squirming of a lame-duck Prime Minister and a discredited House of Commons, America is starting one of the most important policy debates in its modern history. Barack Obama describes his promise to create a system of healthcare that would guarantee to all Americans the basic medical treatment taken for granted in other advanced democracies around the world as the defining issue of his presidency.
Can we just get this straight?
Americans are not denied health care. There are indeed 47 million of them who at some point in the year do not have health insurance, this is true. But health care and health insurance are not the same thing.
Every county in the US has a contractual agreement with one or another set of hospitals etc to provide free health care to the indigent. This is over and above whatever MediCare and MedicAid might provide.
It is also true that turning up at an emergency room will get your treated, whatever your insurance status.
No, I don\’t think the US system is currently perfect, I\’m not even sure that it\’s very good. But it isn\’t true to say that 47 million people do not have health care. Everyone has health care in one form or another….it might not be very good, it might not concentrate on preventive medicine, it might do all that much for chronic problems, but it is health insurance which is lacking, not health care in general.