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writing for godot

Why are so Many Americans against Universal Health Care?

Written by Madeleine Kando   
Tuesday, 19 June 2012 23:34

I have tried to understand why so many Americans are against health care reform. To me, a country without universal health care is not a civilized country, it is a barbaric country. Is America a barbaric country? Maybe one has to go way back in history to understand why America is so reluctant to provide this most basic of human right to its citizens.

Germany was one of the first western European countries to provide compulsory sickness insurance back in 1883. Austria, Hungary, Norway, Britain, Russia, and the Netherlands followed suit. In the early 20th century Sweden, Denmark, France and Switzerland also adopted universal health care. The primary reason for these early programs was protection against wage loss due to sickness rather than payment for medical expenses.

Ironically, in Britain and Germany the sickness insurance programs were developed by conservative governments to counter the expansion of the socialist and labor parties. They used sickness insurance as a way of 'turning benevolence to power'.

At that time, the working class in the US was against universal health care because they thought that a government-based insurance system would weaken unions by providing social benefits. They wanted to maintain union strength. During World War I and afterwards, compulsory health insurance was successfully associated with Communism by its opponents and it lost momentum.

During the Great Depression, although it was an ideal time to pass compulsory health insurance, priority went to unemployment insurance. FDR was afraid that the Social Security legislation would not pass if it included health insurance.

Truman was the first president who fully supported a single payer health insurance plan, but Congress was against it and so was the AMA. In fact, the American Medical Association has always been against health care reform and in those days it was very successful at linking it to socialism and Communism.

In 1958, Rhode Island Congressman Aime Forand proposed to cover hospital costs for the aged on social security. For the first time in health care reform history, there was large grass roots support for reform. As usual, the AMA tried to stop it by offering its own version of 'elderly care', but the government expanded its proposal by covering physician services as well. This became Medicare and Medicaid. It clearly shows that if a large group of citizens wants something done, it will put enough pressure on politicians to make it happen. **

After the horrors and human rights abuses of the Second World War the International Bill of Human Rights was signed by the United Nations. It represented the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are entitled. It includes the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Article 12 of the Covenant, the 'Right to Health', states that Governments must protect this right by providing a comprehensive system of healthcare, which is available to everyone without discrimination.

Of the 167 countries that signed the Covenant only seven didn't ratify it. The United States is one of them. The Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations did not see this Covenant as rights but merely as social goals. Even though the Clinton Administration did see these rights as basic human rights, it did not fight Congress over the Covenant. The Obama Administration doesn't have anything to say about it.

Not only is the whole health care reform issue too complicated for most people to understand, not only is it infested with special interest groups and tainted in the eyes of the public with notions of 'over-dependence on the government', there is also an ideological difference in the US towards basic human rights which most countries that have adopted universal health care, didn't have to deal with.

Maybe things have to get much worse in this country before a call to arms will occur. Hopefully one day, Americans will finally realize that the barbarians are not at the gate but inside of it. I am convinced that sooner or later, they will be defeated.

** Source can be found on this website: Physicians for a National Health Program: 'A Brief History: Universal Health Care Efforts in the US' your social media marketing partner


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+9 # Ray49 2012-06-23 16:54
Very helpful history but I wonder still why there are such "idealogical differences in the US" as you describe. And what are the differences in perceptions about basic human rights--and how did they develop to such extremes. So I still have the question indicated in your title.
+2 # jimyoung 2012-06-24 22:01
I'd argue a substantial majority (at least 63% of the public and 73% of Doctors surveyed) actually were for it before 2008 and what I'd call the "Ignangi Care" version shut out the voices like Dr. Margret Flowers (interviewed by Bill Moyers) clamoring for it. See
+6 # jimyoung 2012-06-24 22:29
Very helpful history but I wonder still why there are such "idealogical differences in the US" as you describe. And what are the differences in perceptions about basic human rights--and how did they develop to such extremes. So I still have the question indicated in your title.

A more direct answer to your question would be that Fox led the distraction from information like this and T.R. Reid's "The Healing of America: The Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care", people like Dr. Flowers were prevented from speaking in the congressional hearings, and the rest of the MSM ignored the shut outs and played back competing polls as if they were anywhere near credible. The distorted polls cynically were not measuring the public's desire for the pure Single payer bill but for bastardized versions that threw in too many Ignagni type compromises. Of course those polls showed lower support, it was not what most people wanted. I'd like to see them run clean polls that might still show a majority actually do support pure single payer, or at least Medicare for all care, though that suffers from the Medicare Advantage add ons that were supposed to save 5% the first year, but ended up costing 20% more because of the private insurance middlemen that weaseled in, and haven't left long after that experiment failed.
+21 # BobM 2012-06-24 11:27
The reason is that the US media have convinced many citizens that black is white.

Universal health care is unhealthy. Unions are bad for workers. Corporations care about the environment.

And on and on...
+7 # kyzipster 2012-06-25 08:32
This history is very helpful in understanding how we got to where we are but much of the resistance today comes from our toxic politics of division. If the Republican Party included universal health care in its platform (by an act of god), it would probably pass. Bush Jr had no problem enacting Medicare Part D, the biggest socialist program passed by Congress in decades if we ignore the Wall Street bailouts. Hardly a peep from the conservative base.

It now costs $12,000 per year (or 100% of a minimum wage paycheck) to insure a family of 4 if they're lucky enough to not have any pre-existing conditions. If a fact like this isn't enough to bring conservatives to the table for civilized debate, nothing will.
+8 # Rich Austin 2012-07-01 17:54
BobM got it right. “The reason is that the US media have convinced many citizens that black is white.

Universal health care is unhealthy. Unions are bad for workers. Corporations care about the environment.

And on and on...”

And I will this addendum: Over the last decade the medical profits industry lavished $5 billion + on Washington, D.C. Do the math. That’s lotsa’ Band Aids per lawmaker, but please remember that not all of Congress is on the take, so that means those who supped from the industry’s horn-o-plenty dined quite well. Thereafter, the decisions they make kill people yet money gets crammed into their campaign war chests. That last sentence is important. Not too many politicians are stupid. They know that Medicare for all is the answer, but rather than wean themselves off the corporate teat, they sell out to them and kill us. Health care is just one example. Poverty and wars are two others.
-10 # Exposé 2012-07-02 12:01
When government does anything, it is hideously wasteful.
When privateers do it, it's obscenely greedy and mean - all for the `$hareholder$.
How about:
Because The People hate 'NO WIN' situations.
+7 # Cui Bono 2012-07-03 07:42
Thank you for your thoughts and the history in Congress.

The question remains unanswered, as Raymond has stated.

Why are some Americans convinced that mandatory health care takes away their liberty? Why is government regulation so distatsteful to them (yet they did not really protest the Patriot Act)? Why are so many Republicans against it? Are Republicans Liberals then? Is it really 'survival of the richest' in the US? Why is there so much propaganda against it? Why is health insurance seen as communist or socialist? Is it 'every man for himself' and 'manifest destiny' without compassion for your fellow Americans, without looking out for one another? Why is the right middle class against it, who usually have health insurance and enough money? It's all a mystery to me...though BobM's answer IS an explanation :-)
+4 # bluevistas 2012-07-05 10:16
I don't think you're asking the correct question... I think most Americans are for health CARE reform, and possibly for universal coverage. But not mandated private insurance coverage. we didn't get health CARE reform, we got insurance sorta reform.
-10 # RubenCLeon 2012-07-06 02:21
When you say you've "tried to understand why so many Americans are against health care reform" you are admitting that you do not understand Americans. We need to face facts. Blaming the only domestic news outlet (that only has 3 to 4 million of the 30 to 40 million viewers in prime) or the entire MSM or the propaganda machines of the right or left is nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Excepting Native Americans, everyone in this country has either come to get away from a bad government/ economy or is descended from someone who did the same. If bigger government is better we should just go directly to a World Government and start taking our orders from Brussels.

If bigger was better Latin wouldn't be a dead language, the Mongols would still be running things, the Han Dynasty and the British Empire would still be with us.

"We the People" aren't stupid as you infer with your remarks about the media et al, even though we let things like the 15th & 16th Amendments slip past us, we eventually get it right. All of your arguments, especially the good ones, are greatly minimized when you take the position that you know better than I what is civilized and what is barbaric...beca use I'm an American living in a country that was "designed" to protect my unalienable rights not from a foreign power...but from my own government. Public housing, education, transportation is all sub-standard and we don't want it forced on us.
+7 # 8myveggies 2012-07-07 23:57
Americans aren't as stupid as was inferred? Really? I have given a copy of "The Economic Elite vs. the People of the United States" by David DeGraw to a dozen people and not one has read it. Why? Because it would take an hour to read and apparently that's about 50 minutes too long. Most of these people have the time to regularly read novels however.

Recently I told a coworker (a 40 year old doctor) that I'd never vote republican but that I was done with the democrats and that the only thing I believed in anymore was the Occupy movement.

"OCCUPY! I don't understand! Why don't they just get jobs? I went to their website (?) because I wanted to know what they were about. Do you know that they don't want people to be able to own land? That's socialism! That's Russia! That scares me!"

I agree with you that we need to (re)start from the ground up. Short bits of information in simple English would, apparently, be what's needed.

We'll eventually get it right? Maybe we would but, unfortunately, I think we'll soon be out of time.
+9 # pernsey 2012-08-16 21:01
Why are so Many Americans against Universal Health Care?

Because the GOP has convinced poor people that them having health care is a bad idea. Fox news has distorted all of it to the point where its non recognizable but more something republicans talk about as being health care is good enough for you poor peons. Nobody wants to pay for it...but corporate welfare thats all wonderful and I bet Fox news never talks about that.

So what it boils down to is stupid people voting against their own best interest, because the GOP has them focusing on topics like birth control and abortion, rather then health care for themselves.
+3 # dcjmom 2012-11-16 10:28
Don't forget, it also doesn't help that our Representatives and Congressmen took kickbacks (which are illegal) when they did show that they were for universal healthcare. It had been pounded into peoples heads since the world wars that universal healthcare is Communist. You tell that to people enough they will believe it. It's going to take a long time for people to understand that it isn't. I would rather pay higher taxes for universal healthcare them rack up hundreds of thousands dollars in debit.
-10 # Realville 2014-02-20 14:47
You don't know what a basic human right is. Any mandate that forces one human to do or pay something for another is an entitlement.

You want your fellow citizens to pay for your healthcare. This is not a "right".

Under your logic of what a "right" is, I could say that I have the right to free cars.

You don't know how basic, historically proven economics work. In a struggling economy, businesses can't afford to pay for healthcare on top of higher taxes. 70% of businesses fail. When businesses have these burdens, they can't hire, or pay higher wages.

Stop spewing out the lies you hear everyday by ideologues who put their agenda before the truth.

On another note.

The government cannot exist in the way it does today without enterprise. The government runs on tax dollars; it is not self-sufficient.

Know the order of operations.

If businesses are struggling, the government should not bite the hand that is feeding it.
-15 # Realville 2014-02-20 14:57

There is nothing wrong with the current system.

It is illegal for hospitals to turn down patients who cannot pay. Essentially, everyone is covered. If you can pay, great, you get great healthcare, if not, you still get great healthcare.
+8 # BobM 2014-02-20 17:56
Realville lacks realville world experience. Nothing wrong with the current system? Doctors hate it. Patients hate it. And while it is illegal for a hospital to turn away someone with an immediate concern (like a stab wound) they do not have to provide any long term care or preventative care. Unavoidable medical expenses are the biggest reason for bankruptcy in this country - a problem no other first work country has.

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