You’ve done it! 120 years after the introduction of the Bismarck system, a mere 60 years after the foundation of the National Health Service, 40 years after you put a man on the moon, and a mere 35 years since Australia introduced Medibank, you finally have a system of universal health coverage. Welcome to civilisation[1]! Admittedly, a lot of people are claiming it’s barely a universal system at all, no-one actually understands it, and 14% of your population now think that Obama is the antichrist, but at least you’ve got your foot in the door.

Of course, some people seem to think that it’s a short and slippery slope from universal health care to armageddon, but 3 of the other nuclear-armed nations have it, and they seem to have avoided nuking each other yet. And on the bright side, public systems are much more likely to respond effectively to a massive public health disaster like armageddon than private ones are.

I’m not so sure that a cobbled-together mandate that no-one really understands is a better approach than to have just, say, imported one of those existing, functioning systems wholesale – or even, just to have set up a government insurer for the 40 million uninsured and watched the rest of the country come flocking to it – but from this point the debate changes, doesn’t it? It no longer becomes “should we/shouldn’t we,” but “how can we improve what we’ve got?” And from there the only way is up up up that slippery slope to socialism and death panels for everyone!

Well done, America! Next, illegal wars and oil dependence… surely they’ll be easy to fix now you’ve overcome this massive challenge?!??

Seriously, though. I get the impression that getting this through has been a lot of work and a serious challenge. The US health system as it stands is an astounding shambles, and without a public solution at some point was going to become an untenable mess. If this system works even half as well as the rest of the world’s public systems, then you’ll get

  • reduced infant mortality
  • reduced health care costs
  • better health care
  • better public and preventive health
  • more rational health decision-making, and more public say in how healthcare money is spent
  • 40 million more people (at least) getting access to healthcare
  • greater labour flexibility
  • more entrepeneurs
  • lower costs for business

which is maybe not good news for all those countries (like Japan and Germany) whose heavy and medium industry has been dining out on American businesses’ hidden healthcare costs, but it’s all round good news for Americans. Antichrist or not, that Obama chap is a miracle worker!

fn1: see how we spell that with an “s”, not a “z”? It’s a slippery slope from universal health systems to British English… even Sarah Palin knows that!