Poorer Nations Push for Universal Health Coverage as U.S. Squabbles

Philip Caper | PNHP | June 14, 2012

A few weeks ago, an article by Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times caught my eye. It was titled “Global Push to Guarantee Health Coverage Leaves U.S. Behind” and it described how “even as Americans debate whether to scrap President Obama’s health care law and its promise of guaranteed health coverage, many far less affluent nations are moving in the opposite direction — to provide medical insurance to all citizens.”

Among those other countries are China, Thailand, Mexico, Rwanda and Ghana. The article went on to explain that, “Two decades ago, many former communist countries in Eastern Europe and elsewhere dismantled their universal health care systems amid a drive to set up free-market economies. But popular demand for insurance protection has fueled an effort in nearly all of these countries to rebuild their systems. Similar pressure is coming from the citizens of fast-growing nations in Asia and Latin America, where rising living standards have raised expectations for better services.”

Many other countries are moving full speed ahead to guarantee health care for all their citizens, not only because it is morally and ethically right but because it is a powerful economic development tool that will ensure these countries have healthy populations and an efficient and effective health care system. Meanwhile, the U.S. seems stuck in a state of political paralysis and may soon move full speed astern. What explains this striking and unfortunate example of American exceptionalism?...