Why Americans Oppose Government Run Healthcare

The British could learn a thing or two.

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By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

The British Broadcasting Corp. has an interesting take on U.S. voter opposition to healthcare reform. In an online article headlined “Why do people often vote against their own interests?” the news service tries to explain white middle- and lower-class opposition to healthcare reform. The article describes last year’s series of angry outbursts at town hall meetings across the country in which mainly white Americans protested President Obama’s and Congress’s version of healthcare reform. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

But it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform--the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step on the road to a police state--are often the ones it seems designed to help.

In Texas, where barely two-thirds of the population have full health insurance and over a fifth of all children have no cover at all, opposition to the legislation is currently running at 87 percent.

The writer then goes on to describe, among other things, Americans’ independent thinking and intense dislike of Washington politicians “who think they know best.” Voters resent having others dictating solutions to problems when the voters do not agree those solutions are in the voters’ best interests. I agree that’s part of the problem, but I believe there’s a lot more. First, polls last summer showed that some 80 percent of Americans were happy with their healthcare insurance. So I kept asking myself why politicians were imposing massive, costly reform on the whole nation when only 40 million out of 310 million are uninsured?

Second, Americans are not stupid. They see the failings of single-payer and government-run systems in other countries. They see that middle-income people get worse care, on average, in state-run systems, than they do through private insurance. They see that state-run systems offer some care to low-income persons. But they offer lousy, spotty, rationed care to the middle class. And only the very wealthy have enough money to buy their way into the best, private care. Why would middle-income Americans want to sacrifice their access to the best care through the coverage they have now?

To me, it’s interesting that British writers would question why many middle-class Americans reject universal care. When their own universal healthcare system is so widely known for providing distinctly lesser care to middle-income Brits, why should they even question why Americans would reject such a system?

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