Tuesday, July 19, 2011

American Exceptionalism and "the best health care system in the world"

As I listened to the radio today (take a guess which show), I heard state representative David Meeks say that America had "the best health care system in the world". I also recall Rudy saying that in a debate a few years ago when he ran for president. Saying something along the lines of "where are Canadians going to go to get their health care?"

                                     Well, that's how I remember Rudy in 2007/2008

Does our country really have the best health care system in the world? I don't think so.

Of course I don't think we have the worst either and I'm not sure anyone has the best. People who hail from countries with more socialized health care have spoken very highly of it. Their stories are a far cry from the horror stories your average Republican tells about socialized medicine. But there's also the occasional reliable story that tells about the negatives of socialized medicine, such as long waits for crucial procedures.

As much as I hear the health care horror stories from own country that have led to people on both sides of the aisle saying we need to do "something", I also hear people who are more or less satisfied with the care they get when they go to a doctor/hospital. I also have my own experience to go by which has been mostly positive (but I've yet to deal with anything catastrophic).

Our country has some of the best doctors in the world and some of the best hospitals. But something must not be perfect if our citizens are taking trips to places like India for procedures. Of course, as this article in Forbes points out, the largest segment of medical tourism going on in the world is that of people coming to the United States. This is because our health care is considered the most advanced in the world.

So basically our health care system is a gas guzzling pimped out luxury SUV with the highest level of trim out. Whereas you could compare the health care system of a European country to a Honda Civic that gets 40 miles to the gallon. If you want a car that will basically drive itself, tell you bedtime stories and rob from your bank account at the same time, go with the SUV, if you want a car that is simple and does an affordably basic job of getting you from point A to point B go with the Civic.

                  U.S.A                                                           Europe                                             
 My point with all this is that "best" is all in what you're grading on. Our country has the most advanced health care in the world, but I couldn't call it the best. Just like I couldn't call Great Britain's the best.

Which brings us to American Exceptionalism. Anytime someone tries to point to American being the best for anything other than the concepts that we were founded on, I get somewhat annoyed. So many of the positive things about this country have been a direct result of many of our founding concepts. I remember Palin flipping out because Obama said that our military was one of the best armies in history. Apparently "one of the" wasn't enough for Sarah. I guess she had all these matchups in her head where our army fights the hordes of Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great's army in Death Valley with spears and win.

Okay, sorry to digress. My point is that I don't need to think my country has the best health care system in the world to love it. A system ranking among the best is enough for me. Wait, I don't believe in American Exceptionalism? Shut up.

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