The Daily Scoop: Europe Baffled by US Health Care Reform Debate


Only in America could there be a firestorm controversy over providing access to health care for 30 million plus U.S. citizens. At least this is the general perspective shared by much of Europe as to WHY the Affordable Care Act’s provisions are opposed so fervently here in America. As many know Europeans enjoy universal health care coverage. It has become as engrained into their social fabric as Medicare and Social Security has here. As a result they are utterly confused as to why there is a debate over this issue. The articles here provides a small glimpse into the confusion our neighbors across the Pond are experiencing over this perculiar political battle over health care.

Europe Is Baffled by the U.S. Supreme Court

Europe is scratching its head over possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court will strike down President Obama’s signature legislative achievement. As the judiciary and the Obama administration trade legal barbs over the high court’s authority, the idea that health care coverage, largely considered a universal right in Europe, could be deemed an affront to liberty is baffling.

“The Supreme Court can legitimately return Obamacare?” asks a headline on the French news site 9 POK . The article slowly walks through the legal rationale behind the court’s right to wipe away Congress’s legislation. “Sans précédent, extraordinaires” reads the article. In the German edition of The Financial Times, Sabine Muscat is astonished at Justice Antonin Scalia’s argument that if the government can mandate insurance, it can also require people to eat broccoli. “Absurder Vergleich” reads the article’s kicker, which in English translates to, “Absurd Comparison.” In trying to defeat the bill, Muscat writes, Scalia is making a “strange analogy [to] vegetables.”

Read more…

Perhaps the British newspaper The Independent summed up the situation best when it stated;

With the stroke of a judicial pen, unelected judges would have voided the most important piece of health legislation since the Medicare and Medicaid Acts in 1965, and destroyed the boldest effort yet to give America what is taken for granted in every other industrial country: universal health coverage.

Additional Article:

‘Obamacare’ at the mercy of the supreme court

If Americans are promised not just liberty but life and happiness, is there not a constitutional right to affordable healthcare?

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7 Comments to “The Daily Scoop: Europe Baffled by US Health Care Reform Debate”

  1. As someone who grew up in Europe, I’ve always been perplexed by the way the United States has dealt with health care. When I first moved to the United States, I broke my arm in three places playing hockey. I went to the doctor and had to pay money up front. That was very strange to me. Then my parents received a bill for additional treatments, something that was completely unusual to us. The way the system operates seems quite backwards from the rest of the world.

    Beyond that, the constant talk of a “European-style socialist democracy” regarding health care is made to sound like a bad thing. I wait longer to see a doctor in the United States. I pay more for treatments and medicine in the United States. I am subjected to more treatments for something minor in the United States to bilk more money out of me. I don’t understand why the US model, where Americans spend 20 times more for health care, is a better system than Europe’s, where people have a higher life expectancy and lower child mortality rate.

    Am I missing something here? Isn’t the point of health care to keep people healthy longer, to fix injuries as painlessly as possible, to extend life when possible, and to keep children alive through pregnancy? If this is the purpose of health care, why does the US contend they have the best system on earth when they aren’t top 10 in life expectancy, population health, or child mortality? A woman in Cuba has a better chance of carrying her child to term than in the United States. How can politicians defend a system which clearly doesn’t work?

  2. The system here really is difficult to understand, especially for someone like yourself who came from Europe. (Where?) I had similar experiences but in reverse. I’ve spent extended periods over there and lived in Spain for some time. I remember my landlady talking about how nice it was being able to just go to the doctor and asked me about the care in the US. I told her that basically if you didn’t have insurance you couldn’t get much care.

    “Beyond that, the constant talk of a “European-style socialist democracy” regarding health care is made to sound like a bad thing.”

    I’d say this is just borne of ignorance. People who believe it have never been there or experienced the system. Honestly, I’d say overall it’d be cheaper for individuals’ out-of-pocket expenses. The amount that would come out of a paycheck in taxes to pay for a universal care system would be much less than the monthly premiums and deductibles paid for insurance now.

    “Am I missing something here?”

    Nope…. not at all 🙂

    “How can politicians defend a system which clearly doesn’t work?”

    Denial, I’d say is a major reason. Ideology is another. Like Ron Paul who believes charitable organizations can handle the 30 million uninsured. He thinks people can fend for themselves better than what they can get from government policies or actions. And maybe there are some that just don’t care. But I’m not sure why anyone would choose public service if they don’t care about the people they are to represent.

    • I’m from Belgium and lived in Germany and the UK during my time in Europe.

      I can see why the wealthy would defend a system that gives them an edge against the “unclean masses”, but for people to turn out and protest attempts to provide the most in need (the protestors) with health care at reasonable prices is akin to shooting ones self in the foot and calling it air conditioning. It makes no sense to me at all.

  3. With relatives in Scandinavia (Norway and Sweden) and the U.K., I can tell you that there is something to be said for both types of health care systems. I think, on the whole, the idea that Americans are utterly unwilling to entertain the models used in other countries, even when those models prove that you can make health care more efficient, cost-effective and comprehensive than we currently have it here, is just beyond belief.

    • I didn’t realize Norway and Sweden had similar systems. But then again, my friends from there and I never got into the discussion of health care for some reason. It’s my understanding Switzerland has a pretty similar, successfully system to that, the Affordable Care Act is set to create.

      You’re right, the root of the problem here in the US is that unwillingness or, just default dismissal, of anything Eureopean. That mentality of, “We’re the best at everything” blinds many of us to what we can learn from other countries. Because of that, it is too easy for those opposed to reform to whip up fears of “european socialism” whenever efforts to make sweeping changes comes up.

  4. I remeber visiting a friends family in London. Driving back from Gatwick, two of the people were bitching about/mocking their National Healthcare. I chimed in “would you rather our system”. They both laughed heartily, and one replied, “ohhhh f&*k no!”

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