Europe to the U.S. on Healthcare: Welcome to the 20th Century

Europeans applaud U.S. healthcare reform.  The word on the European street and in the press is that it’s long past time that the United States fixed its broken healthcare system.   “On Sunday evening the richest, most powerful world in the country, the USA, finally entered the 20th century. Yes, not the 21st century, but the 20th,” according to an article published on Rue89.com,  a widely read French website. Rue89.com also posted Time magazine’s November, 2008, cover depicting President Barack Obama as a modern day Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Similarly, the Dutch newspaper De Volksrant reported that “Where healthcare was until now a closed privilege, Obama and the Democrats have made it a law.  One of the most important differences between America and other industrialized countries has finally been lifted.”

Europeans demand high-quality public services – such as healthcare and education – and vote politicians out of office if they don’t deliver.  Taxes in Europe may be somewhat higher than in the United States, but medical fees are subsidized by governments and are significantly cheaper.  The French, for example, pay just $30 for a doctor visit.  Additionally, European insurance companies cannot reject applications because of pre-existing conditions.

“It was a scandal that the world’s richest country for so long offered its citizens such pitiful protection against illness or injury,” wrote Gregor Peter Schmitz, Washington correspondent for the German publication Der Spiegel. “It seems entirely possible that, in 10 years time, Americans will find it hard to believe that they didn’t always have the right to health insurance.”

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