Usborne in the USA: The best healthcare delivery system in the world? Are you off your rocker?

The Republicans are on a hot streak thanks to Obamacare's false start

Share
Related Topics

Sometimes I think Barack Obama just doesn’t get his own people. On the domestic front, his agenda is one mostly founded on the notion of building for the common good versus honouring the primacy of the individual.

That’s what he preaches and it’s at the core of his quest for better gun controls  and, of course, for moving the country towards some form of universal healthcare.

You may have noticed that on both counts, he has been walking in treacle. However frequent and ghastly the mass shootings, the land of the free – an apt moniker, to be sure – just isn’t willing to give up wearing a holster to Starbucks.

In 2010, he barely rammed the Affordable Care Act through Congress, but trying to implement it now is pushing him – and the rest of us – to the brink of a nervous breakdown. That the country remains resistant was crystal clear in a Washington Post-ABC poll released on Tuesday. It found that 57 per cent of Americans dislike the president’s proudest legislative achievement. That’s higher than ever.

As for the law’s most essential component – that every American must buy health insurance or face a fine – it is opposed  today by a margin of two-to-one.

Partly this has to do with the behaviour of politicians in Washington and I don’t know who to blame first, Mr Obama  himself for his blithering incompetence  or the Republicans for their shameless acts of sabotage. It beggars belief that three years after getting his baby passed Mr Obama has managed so comprehensively to fluff its roll-out. First off there were was the website that was meant to offer a seamless shopping experience for new policies. Right, like changing terminals at Heathrow is seamless.

Then, there was the promise he made over and over that everyone who had policies that they liked would be able to keep them. That has turned out to be nonsense. Was he lying or did he just not know his own law? Talk about dropping the drawbridge to the barbarians.

After their suicidal attempt last month to shut down the government, the Republicans were meant to be on the defensive.

Instead, they are on a tear thanks to the delinquency of the White House and they won’t stop until Obamacare is in shreds.

Listening to John Boehner, the speaker of the House, makes me want to burst. The strategy, he told members last week, is “targeted legislative strikes aimed at shattering the legislative coalition the president has used to force his law on the nation,” which, he went on, “is going to destroy the best healthcare delivery system in the world”. What was that last part? Are you completely off your trolley?

They may not be all you’d like – and  their execution so far is not – but Mr Obama’s reforms are America’s chance to right its greatest social sin. Among its industrial peers, it has the worst delivery system, bar none. Yes, if you are making money, all is hunky-dory at the Mayo Clinic or whatever your local equivalent.

But what if you are one of the tens of millions without insurance and you cough up blood one morning?

How is it possible to be proud of a status quo where a 10-block ambulance ride (mine recently) costs $900? Where the average cost of a preventative, 20 minute colonoscopy (had one of those too) in New York is $8,577? (In Switzerland it’s $655.)

What virtue in a system that puts volume and profit before care?

So why is this so tough a sell for Mr Obama and why are Mr Boehner and his Tea Party hoard gaining ground? The reason, I think, can be found in a study published earlier this year by three Stanford University professors in Psychological Science under the title, ‘In the Land of the Free, Interdependent Action Undermines Motivation’. Its conclusion: If you try to convince Americans (Anglo-Saxon white Americans especially) of a policy’s benefits in terms of the greater good it will fail. Tell them it’s about sanctifying individual rights – where it’s about the ‘you’ versus society as  a whole – then you’ll have a winner.

“US culture stresses independence,” says MarYam Hamedani, a co-author. “People often like the idea of working together and certainly care about social issues. Our findings show that thinking about and caring about others doesn’t always translate into effective action.”

This week, the president said his only hope is to rebrand Obamacare. He is right. He has to make the case that rather than it foisting big government on regular folk, as the Republicans claim, it will free them from the hegemony of industrial medical complex and, through the website (assuming it ever works) they will be liberated and gain freedom of choice over their healthcare options.

Then they will like it, but only then.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: the strange case of the errant royal pronoun

Guy Keleny
Flowers and candles are placed at the site where a refrigerated truck with decomposing bodies was found by an Austrian motorway  

EU migrant crisis: The 71 people found dead in a lorry should have reached sanctuary

Charlotte Mcdonald-Gibson
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future