The NHS is much better than the US system, but the right still insists on moving away from universal healthcare

NHS Not Safe
Shan Williams

The NHS is much better than the US healthcare system. But from the US to the UK, right-wing politicians still like the idea of moving away from universal healthcare. So why is that?

The US public wising up to Republican antics?

US Republicans hate Obamacare, which moved the American system a little bit closer to universal healthcare. And although Britain’s NHS consistently outperforms the US system, the Republican landslide in 2016 has seen a renewed onslaught against healthcare support for the poorest people in America.

But Republican attempts (which could leave 32 million people without cover) are unpopular. Obamacare, meanwhile, has the support of over half of the US population. And the majority of Americans want either public healthcare or a mix of public and private. This is a reality that perhaps played out this week in yet another Republican failure to replace the current system.

Right-wingers, however, continue to push for less government intervention in healthcare. And Trump ominously said after the recent Republican defeat: “We will return!”

Universal healthcare vs private healthcare

Over in the UK, the NHS is in crisis. The Conservative-led government has been underfunding the service, pushing backdoor privatisation, and charging for some essential services. And if they get their way, Britain could move further and further towards the US system.

But even in spite of the current difficulties, the Commonwealth Fund health thinktank still believes the NHS is the best, safest, and most affordable healthcare system of the 11 countries it looked at in a recent analysis; and that the US system is the worst. At the same time, the UK consistently ranks higher than the US in studies by other organisations; even though the US spends over twice as much on healthcare per person as the UK does.

In the US, many larger businesses are able to offer employees healthcare plans, but small businesses struggle to do so. Self-employed and unemployed people, meanwhile, must find an alternative. ‘ObamaCare’ (the Affordable Care Act (ACA)) has made some improvements to the system, but it’s not perfect. It provides care and curbs healthcare spending through regulations and taxes, so even the poorest Americans have more access to affordable health insurance. But the average American family still spends $1,021 per month on health insurance. And rising healthcare costs and unexpected illnesses are cited as the main causes of bankruptcy in the US.

What Americans say about Obamacare

Josephine Greer (32) from Palmdale has chronic asthma. She told The Canary:

In the US, health insurance is an expensive, evil, pain in the backside.

At age 23, I was taken off my father’s health insurance. At 24, thankfully, Obama’s first health care law took effect, allowing children to remain on their parents health insurance until 26.

Patients with preexisting conditions were turned down by any and all health insurance. The Affordable Health Care Act is widely considered a life saver, to those who suffer severe, and terminal diseases. As a chronic asthmatic, this is perfect. My care and medications are covered. If I get sick, I have access to antibiotics, cough syrup, or whatever I need to get better.

For those who need steady monthly care for things like Asthma, diabetes, cancer etc, the Affordable Care Act truly is a life saver. And I do thank my lucky stars that I am still able to breathe on a daily basis.

Not just the poorest people…

Marion Usnick (35) from Upland, California, has a diabetic daughter. She said:

We are considered middle class because of our yearly income. We receive medical insurance through my husband’s employer, we used to have government insurance as well as private. But now our income is too high for it.

We pay monthly for medicine and medical supplies for my daughter. It gets pricey. We’ve three other children as well. We couldn’t afford to live without Obamacare. My daughter has to have medical care and insulin in order to live.

Today, we picked up a prescription that wasn’t covered by insurance, so had to pay $40 for it. If we didn’t have insurance, our medical bills would bankrupt us. Even working two jobs with myself, our combined income wouldn’t be enough pay for a home, expenses and medical bills.

Around 28 million Americans are still living without medical insurance.

It’s our call – what system do we want?

In the UK, plans are already in the Tory pipeline to sell parts of the NHS off to American health insurance giants. Along with the man-made crisis in the health service, this is all essentially part of an attempt to move towards a US-style system.

But the fact is that the NHS is much better than the US healthcare system. So whatever right-wing politicians say – from the US to the UK, we’ve got to make an important choice. Which system do we want? And how do we keep it?

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Featured image via Flickr

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