On US healthcare

From an e-mail to a dear friend, but probably also bloggable:

There is much amusement here at the American hysteria over the very idea of socialised healthcare. Not that all the concerns are rubbish, but many of the arguments are. Best of all is the suggestion that we should be thankful that Professor Stephen Hawking doesn't live in the UK, because someone with his disabilities should surely have been left to die on the NHS. Dear SH felt moved to point out that (a) he does in fact live in the UK, (b) he has lived in the UK all his life, (c) he has received excellent treatment on the NHS throughout his life and (d) he was treated only in April this year at the (NHS) Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge! Healthcare is one of those things that is demanded most by the very young, very old and very poor, three groups that, by and large, don't have massive resources to call upon. It would, to my rather unsocialist brain at least, seem ripe for socialisation to ensure that the money is available to these groups when they need it, just as - say - roads are.

The cynic in me suggests that the real concern among the American right is that the US might find a way to cut its overall healthcare costs (15% of GDP) down to the level of UK healthcare spending (8%). Just how we can cover our entire population for about half as much as it costs the US to cover 80% of its population is left as an exercise for the reader. You may also wish to consider what the US might spend the potential $1trn saving on healthcare on!