Universal health coverage not radical

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/02/24/universal-health-coverage-not.html


Powerful image. Should be used widely to communicate how broadly the rest of the developed world has adopted universal healthcare. Good work 1912 Progressive Party…


Not radical, but it is rad!



The standard talking point is to pivot to how much those countries hate their health care systems, how long they have to wait for care, etc. That’s when you show them the swing dancing NHS doctors from the 2012 Olympics!


It’s radical in that it gets to the roots of the problem. It shouldn’t be radical as in scary though.


Sick burn, but I would also have accepted “having the guts to defend yourself against disease with privately-owned guns”


Putting aside the middlemen and parasites who profit off the U.S.'s broken-by-design corporate model, think about how stupid, ignorant, blinkered, and/or racist* an American would have to be to still oppose single-payer universal in 2020. The level of self-defeat regarding an aspect of life that affects all humans is astounding.

[* bigotry – especially against African-Americans – informs this aspect of “American Exceptionalism” as it does so many others.]


It isn’t even an off-the-charts radical idea in the US. Teddy Kennedy and Tip O’Neill famously fought for national health care for years, it was a central Democratic policy goal at least into the 1970s.


A lot of American seem to have a special belief that their country is unable to produce good leadership. They think everything done by the government will be a disaster. I’m sure it doesn’t help having only two political parties, one of which is committed to being a disaster.

I find the contradiction deeply weird. American exceptionalism seems to be about Americans being the best but it also seems to position them as uniquely incompetent. I guess weird contradictions like that are probably at the center of a lot of stupid ideas.


boggles the mind how Americans (specifically conservatives) are so head stuck in the sand on this.

John Oliver (LWT) did a great job as usual…


I can’t believe they didn’t include Mexico:

…it’s an extra-swift kick in the balls that our “backwards” neighbors to the south managed to solve a problem that has (inexplicably) vexed 'merica for decades.


Hell, even Richard Nixon tried to implement universal (though not single-payer) healthcare coverage.


I’d love to get the graphic in sticker form. Any thoughts?

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When I am talking with the anti single payer folks and they get to the “we can’t do it because x” phase, that is exactly when I go super patriot and give them my best rendition of Kennedy’s moon landing speech, but edited for health care. We can have anything we want when we are united.

I also draw upon our brave men and women serving in the world’s best military, if our government can do that then we can do healthcare.

Liberals need to reclaim patriotism from the corporate stooges!


Off the record advice for U.S. citizens from a supervising doctor at an international traveler’s health insurance company who has dealt with every healthcare system in the world.

  1. Health care practice, knowledge and training, at least in industrialized countries, is more or less at US standards, because everyone else copies US medical school curriculums. They won’t f*ck up an appendectomy. More complex procedures, maybe, maybe not.

2 Every socialized health care system, all of them, are either currently bankrupt, or a few inadequate budget allocations away from bankruptcy. Thus they knowingly violate standards of care because of money. They re-use needles and skimp in other dangerous way. Not their fault, they make do with what they have.

  1. Every rich person who lives south of Texas flies to Miami for their medical care. Everyone else in world travels to NYC, Boston, Pittsburgh or Houston.

You can have an acute illness in the US and be treated at the standard of care. You can have an acute illness in a handful of first world cities around the world and be treated up to the standard as well. (The big ones in Western Europe, Can, Japan, Aus and NZ.)

From everywhere else your best plan of action is to drag your carcass on to a jet and fly back to the United States.

Are we sure that universal health care isn’t just being rolled out alphabetically?


This is pure bullshit. If you can afford the private jet to the US then the US might have the best healthcare system in the world. But if you can’t then it doesn’t, and people living in the US mostly can’t afford private jets.

I know people personally who have hosted families visiting from the US to have their children have surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada because everyone knows it’s a world-leading place for treatment. The US does not have some monopoly on good care.

The United States has among the worst child mortality in the developed world and considerably lower life expectancy as well. The US healthcare system let’s people die.

Finally, reusing needles in Canada because the healthcare system is underfunded? Screw off with that bullshit. No one with any understanding of Canadian healthcare could even think that made sense. Doctors don’t bill the government for a new box of clean needles. That shows complete ignorance of how the system works. If a doctor is cutting corners to save money that money would go to lining their pockets not back into the system. I don’t doubt it is happening somewhere because people (including doctors) can be monstrous. But I’d be shocked if it wasn’t happening more in the US where lining your pockets is the accepted understanding of the purpose of healthcare.


That’s funny, because I have heard a few horror stories about NHS doctors having to fix botched treatments by US doctors that the patient still had to pay for.

I can guarantee that is bullshit, at least in the UK. Carlisle isn’t a big city by any definition, but my treatment there was good.

However, my opinion isn’t bought by anyone, especially Mammonist insurance companies who have been actively destroying healthcare in my country.


What you’re discussing is not a divide between nation-states and their medical systems, but a divide between desirable cities and rural areas in every country in the industrialised West. That city-country divide is less stark in countries that have embraced social democracy.

As an anecdotal data point, I knew one very wealthy Canadian “snowbird” living in the Miami-Dade area who regularly flew back to Montreal even in the dead of winter for treatments over the past five year for his serious illnesses. Meanwhile, if you look at the John Oliver piece posted above, you’ll see a medical charity airlifting doctors and nurses into Appalachia to provide basic checkups to poor Americans in the same way other medical charities do in Africa.

The phenomenon isn’t limited to “first world” countries, either. At this very moment, looking out of my window in the Central American country I’ve been visiting (one with universal public healthcare for citizens), I can see a large modern teaching hospital that’s a major destination for American medical tourists. I actually decided this morning to get a long-overdue full eye exam from what looks like a well-trained and experienced opthamologist at what seems to be [ETA after checking] 60% of the cash-only price of one in the U.S.

This is not about socialised medicine, this is about the winners and losers of neoliberal globalism and late-stage capitalism.