American obsession with individual rights and choice are killing any chance of a universal solution on health care, according to an analysis in the authoritative trade publication "Current Sociology" which argues that Europe's health care is the model the U.S. should follow.
Robert Blank, a researcher for New College in Sarasota, Florida and a professor at New Zealand's University of Canterbury, told Secrets that affordable health care can't be had in a nation that wants it all for little money. "Setting limits is very difficult in the U.S.," he said.
Other "western nations," he said, are smarter on the issue because they have an all-for-one approach and aren't obsessed with choice and individualism. "These countries have more communitarian- and solidarity-based value systems, their populations are much more willing to live with what Americans would see as an unfair system, in other words, one that sets limits on medical care for those with coverage," said Blank.
In his study, he spelled out the problems with America's want-it-all values.
"The U.S. is the prototype of an individualistic society. Although individual rights are emphasized in all western countries, in the US rights have been elevated to a status of supremacy over collective interests. Moreover, by rights Americans mean negative rights, and, as a result, they are hesitant to sacrifice perceived individual needs for the common good. Thus, there is no guaranteed universal coverage, but also no limits on what healthcare individuals can buy if they can afford it. This cultural tenet goes a long way to explain why the US expends so much more of its GDP on healthcare than other developed countries without providing universal access."
Blank has a long list of who is to blame for high health care costs and lack of insurance for the poor, including health companies, the media and doctors who want to spoil their patients.
"With all the evidence pointing towards the need to moderate the medical model and set limits, what factors explain the failure of Americans to face this issue? Forces in opposition include politicians who over promise; drug companies, big medicine and a medical research community whose lifeblood is continual expansion of profit-making medical technologies; physicians who will not say no to patients and are paid more to provide more care; tort lawyers who argue negligence when not all that is possible is done for their client; and patients and their families who demand everything that might help be done because cost should be of no concern if a third party is paying for it," he wrote.
"Every element of U.S. healthcare drives it to deliver more and more. Each of these forces is mutually reinforcing, and all point back to the prevailing individualistic values of Americans. In combination, they constitute a formidable force for the status quo and a powerful obstruction in the way of genuine healthcare reform that includes setting sustainable limits."