Ted Kennedy spoke from the grave on Monday 22nd March, saying through the earthly voice of Nancy Pelosi that the passage of health reform was “the great unfinished business of our society.”

Universal health coverage has been part of developed Europe for decades, and those countries spend a lot less overall and per capita on health care with arguably at least as good outcomes as the U.S.

I’ve spent the past week in Europe, and while I was away, 219 Democrats voted in favor of health reform for America. I’ve had the opportunity to read various Euro-papers and listen to a few newscasters in Italy and Spain talk about President Obama’s “legacy,” which has been the over-arching theme of the coverage.


The Times of the UK wrote that the passage of U.S. health reform “will help millions [of Americans] find affordable health insurance for the first time.”

“Europeans may struggle to grasp how health insurance subsidies could be seen as an assault on freedom, but for Michelle Bachmann, the Sarah Palin of the Midwest, they are part of a battle for the soul of America,” the Times weighed in.

Bachmann’s fellow Republicans responded in unkind, talking about the loss of personal liberties, baby killing, the new US-Soviet society, unconstitutionality, “hell no” (for which there is now an official Twitter hashtag), and even reverting to calling Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) the “N” word. Getting into the Euro-name calling, Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) referred to California as the New Greece due to its mounting debt challenges.

Europeans can’t understand these extreme aggressive responses among the Tea Party activists and certain Republicans in the U.S.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: So what’s so bad about being European, at least in the health care sense? Denmark and most other Euronations are ahead of the U.S. in the adoption of electronic medical records, every member of the EU has a lower infant mortality rate vs. the U.S., and in Euro-nations, health citizens have medical homes. It’s that access to primary care that helps to achieve Europeans’ health-ful outcomes; primary care, and of course, access to a health plan in the first place.

What’s wrong according to the naysayers of “ObamaCare” are two major critiques: (1) that this health reform plan will nationalize health care and (2) taxes will rise exorbitantly for most Americans, taking money out of citizens’ pockets over which they should have total control.

The U.S. has been at the crossroads of whether health is a public or private good for decades now. The health reform naysayers would tell you that Europe has declared heath care a public good; in the U.S., it’s been a mixed-breed of public/private.

But in fact, in Europe, health financing and delivery is mixed in various proportions of public/private funding and delivery based on the national cultures and health structure histories. What’s fundamentally true across the European Union is that health care is a right for all European health citizens.

And now I can use the phrase, “American health citizen:” oh, how I like the sound of that.

Postscript: As I wrote this on the airplane journey today from Madrid to Philadelphia, TIME magazine was posting something up this alley here.

4 Comments on Are Americans all Europeans now?

SteveH said : Guest Report 11 years ago

I have to comment on the comments here. First, I am familiar with the French system which does not have the "coverage limitations" that Americans are familiar with. There are more doctors and hospital beds per capita there than in the USA. The French have unrestricted access to primary care and specialists. Second, tort reform was not ignored. There are provisions in the Health Reform bill for up to 5 states to test alternatives to the tort system for malpractice issues. The important thing is that it is not simply an effort to reduce lawsuits but to improve care. Third, the "unfunded mandate" argument is a non-starter. States can opt out, as long as they don't increase Medicaid costs. Fourth, no one is compelled to buy a product. There is the equivalent of a Federal tax on everyone. Those who have health insurance are excused from paying the tax. No constitutional issue of import.

James said : Guest Report 11 years ago

"What's wrong according to the naysayers of "ObamaCare" are two major critiques: (1) that this health reform plan will nationalize health care and (2) taxes will rise exorbitantly for most Americans, taking money out of citizens' pockets over which they should have total control."There are two other items that should be on this major list: 1. There are serious questions on whether the U. S. Constitution permits the federal government to compel its citizens to buy a product or service; 2. The unfunded mandates aspects of the legislation on state governments. Both of these items have spurred litigation forward.

Reg Golg said : Guest Report 11 years ago

The expenses of civil litigation in Europe are not nearly as ruinous as they are in the United States. The defensive medicine that is practiced in the US by design results in unnecessary delays in diagnoses and layers of expensive extra testing, the brunt of which is imposed on the very sick and dying. Ignoring tort reform was incredibly cruel and will result in the failure of this scatter-brained legislation.

Jim said : Guest Report 11 years ago

I am okay with your opinion if you can convince Americans to except the coverage limitations that the Europeans have. That is the difference!

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