The EU-US healthcare divide

EU: Universal healthcare rules

In the EU, we take it for granted that pretty much everyone gets access to healthcare regardless of their ability to pay. Our healthcare systems are designed to provide universal coverage regardless of ability to pay and you’ll be hard pushed to find people who question that principle, even if many of us might criticise the systems themselves.

This means that on-line debate and blogging about healthcare in the EU examines specific issues such as healthcare recruitment and health technology assessment and looks at broader topics such as healthcare reform including how to make health systems more responsive to the needs of individuals (more “consumer driven”), it’s difficult to find anyone seriously suggesting dismantling universal healthcare in Europe.

Here are some examples:

In the recent Presidential elections in France, the country whose health system the WHO has rated as the world’s best, no-one questioned the system, although both Ségolène Royal and François Bayrou had some ideas for improving it. However, interestingly enough the web site of the winner, now President Nicolas Sarkozy barely mentions healthcare.

US: Yes or No to universal healthcare?

However, in the US things are a little different. Without going into detail, the US does not have a system of universal healthcare, but instead has a system mostly based on private insurance, with some public health coverage available through programmes like Medicare for retired people and Medicaid for low income families. The result is that around 41 million people are uninsured and many millions more have very limited health insurance.

Not surprisingly, health is a political issue in the US and the issue of the day is whether the problems with US healthcare (the uninsured, spiralling costs) could be solved by adopting a system of universal healthcare provision. This question features in many of the campaigns of the current US Presidential hopefuls, especially the Democrats and debates on the “should we shouldn’t we” question of universal healthcare are vigourously debated on-line in a myriad of fora by academics, think-tanks, civil society organisations and interested individuals.

US Presidential hopefuls and their health plans



    Civil society/individual websites/blogs on US healthcare

    There are hundreds, possibly thousands of websites and blogs adressing the US healthcare system, some supporting the idea of fundamentally changing the US system and moving towards universal provision, while others preferring to keep a market oriented system which they say delivers more choice to individual Americans.

    Here are some interesting sites/blogs that support universal healthcare:

    And some sites/blogs that criticise the idea of universal healthcare:


    March 27, 2010 | 9:36 PM

    I think we'll lose our minds through this debate even though it must happen. Regardless of what's right, we'll never be going back to how things were, for better or worse.

    March 27, 2008 | 11:14 PM

    joe biden is not a reopublican