I was watching this clip of Matt Taibbi being interviewed on MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' about health-care (two plugs in one day, Matt, you owe me a kickback!) and some of the pundits objected to his criticism of the U.S. health-care system. The standard pushbacks were thrown against Taibbi... that most Americans like the health-care they get, that we have done great innovative work on this front, that many foreign people come here because our system is so awesome, and etc. I didn't think Taibbi did the best job responding to these specific points-- though they got there in the end-- so let me give my response, since they always come up.
I agree with those points in general... America does have amazing facilities and doctors (I'll leave the drugs out of this for now), and many Americans are satisfied with both. But... that's not the point and it's not the issue. The issue is that the greatness or horrors of a system is moot if you don't have access to it. And our current system of a profit-based, private insurance monopoly-- except for all those socialist old people and veterans who have a... wait for it... public option already-- is on the wrong side of that. Don't have, or can't afford, insurance? You're screwed. Have insurance? You're screwed anyway, because between denied claims and cancelled policies and increasing co-pays, countless Americans are being driven into poverty for the crime of having gotten sick. It's a corrupt system that is overly complicated and which puts profits ahead of health. Nearly a third of all premium dollars go toward administrative costs, not toward paying claims and actual care. That is the issue.
The idea that since the occasional foreign millionaire may come to the U.S. to see a particular specialist (unlike the majority of Americans, who could never afford that) all this is negated is laughable. But it's part of the narrative tide we are fighting against. For every such anecdote, I can find you (very easily) a hundred of these heart-breaking stories. I'm sure the latter is more tragically familiar to most Americans too.
This is not a good system. Period. There is a reason the World Health Organization ranks us #37 in this regard. And I'll note again, in conclusion, that the idea of replacing this system was taken off the table from the start... at best, all that is being proposed is an option for something better, with some regulations here and there to help the rest. If we're the greatest country in the world, we deserve at least that much.