Trusting the guy on the street

There are many, many good arguments for reforming health care. The lovely and talented Dan has made many of them right here on this site and on Ordinary Gentlemen. I believe we have less to be afraid of than many think by adopting a system more like France's. There are good arguments for this. But you know what is a bad argument for this, and one that I've seen repeatedly? The fact that people in countries with greater government subsidization of medicine would not trade their system for our system.

Why would we assume that, say, an average French person on the street knows more about what Americans deal with in their health care system than we know about theirs? When Americans say they are leery of trading their system for a foreign one, we assume that they are xenophobic or ill-informed. Why should we assume that the average European is much more informed, policy-wise?

If you want to convince us that the horrors of universalized care are exaggerated, show us stats, show us data. But don't tell us that the Dutch wouldn't trade their system for the American one, and expect that to be a convincing argument for adopting a more Dutch style of health care. Because I guarantee you that for every Dutch person who says they would not switch to America's health plan, I can find an American who says she would not switch to the Dutch.


  1. I dunno, I find that reasoning a little faulty. I don't think you can make such a guarantee. In fact, in a place like Japan that has UHC you would be hard pressed to find anyone who would want to change, in the US I can show you 50 million right from the get go that would die for the Japanese system, wait check that - live for it, in the US they just die. Taiwan recently instituted a island wide health care plan for UHC, they took one look at the US and laughed. This from an island that owes its very existence in freedom to us, and who love America and Americans, they think our system is a disaster.
    And yes, the average European knows more about America than we do them. You know that is true. Hollywood and CNN are everywhere there.


  2. Hollywood and CNN are perhaps the two worst places to gain accurate information about America. If that's where Europeans are getting their info, no wonder they think they live in heaven.

  3. Charo, yes they do know more about us. But I still don't think that amounts to knowing what life is like on a daily basis, or what it's like to go to the doctor here.

    And it would be one thing if these guys were citing polls of of satisfaction with healthcare. But what they are citing is anecdotal conversations with Europeans who don't want to switch.

  4. elizabeth, sorry to disagree but I don't live in the states though I am American. I have lived in 5 different countries for an extended period of time. I will tell you flat out that Japans system kicks the hell out of Americas. You come in, register, they give you a card, you are covered.
    And as to America, there is no life on a daily basis for everyone, so it is kind of silly to go down that road. The unisured don't know what it is like to go to a doctor in the states either, is that really a good talking point? When I talk about knowledge I am saying the average Austrian knows more about America than the reverse. Can you even name the Austrian PM? Having lived in Austria I will tell you that their system is also first rate. Of course I agree with your point that facts, stats, etc. are also critical, Japan has better outcomes at half our cost, but I don't think not wanting to emulate a system that leaves 50 million uninsured is bad reasoning. And you would be surprised at how many Europeans do know this.
    Check out Irelands health care system as well. Many Irish visit the states often, with many living for extended periods. They know both well enough. Ask one of them which they prefer (if you know any) don't be so quick to discount their opinion. They probably know far more than you realize.