There seems to be a health care hysteria in the USA. It is one of President Obama’s most prestigious projects and one of his central election promises. So it is not surprising that health care is back in the US news. But this time with a rare transatlantic twist (at least for a few days…). British Conservative and “political no-one” MEP Daniel Hannan (who is more popular as a Blogger on youtube than as an MEP in Brussels) talking about the NHS on Fox News (which is also not exactly known for rigorous analysis and balanced debate). The interview about the dangers of the “socialised NHS health care system” was rather misleading but thanks to youtube, the UK media became aware of it and the topic quickly entered into the British political debate. Good for Labour, not so good for Cameron and Hannan (at least until the next scandal appears). The British blogosphere is outraged and a welovethenhs campaign on twitter even made it into the BBC news…
Some highlights: The Independent writes about the brutal truth about America’s healthcare (which is indeed a shocking article!). Dave gives a really good overview on the debate on Gulf Stream Blues here and here. Garbo writes about Hannan’s celebrity exposure in the US. Nosemonkey looks at the numbers. ISN analyses the paranoid populism. EUoplocephalus explains why we tend to blog and write about it. And an entertaining Daily Mash post can be found here.
To be honest: I don’t know enough about health care (nor do I have the time and motivation to dig into it…) to add something substantial to the debate. My personal experience of health care systems is rather limited. At the moment I am insured with the NHS, before I had been insured in the German system. (Last week I actually had to pay for a dentist visit in Germany as the NHS does not cover this. First time ever I had to pay something health related… Typical example for the “European” health policy I suppose, but that is a topic for another blog post…)
Coming back to the Obama – Republicans – Dan Hannan – NHS – twitter – UK politics health thing. It is interesting that neither the US nor the UK debate looks beyond national borders in a constructive way. The US media tends to look for bad examples abroad (although the NHS does not seem to be the best example there…) and the UK the media seems to ignore foreign health care systems. Same is true in Germany: health care reform is a constant topic in the political debate but examples from other countries are absent. David explains very well in this post that Obama’s proposals are actually similar to the German health care system – and not to the UK system, which is totally ignored in the US (and in the UK and Germany).
This reminded me about an excellent PBS documentary I watched last year which compares different approaches to health care from around the world. The question (not only for the US but also for Europe) is: What can we learn from other health care systems around the world? And how can we make the systems better? So if you are interested in the current (and future) health care debate I recommend you to watch this excellent Frontline programme: