Apr 21, 2021
Almost every wealthy country in the world has some type of universal healthcare system--except for the United States. With over 170 million of its citizens left to fend for themselves in a sprawling and complex maze of Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance, tax credits, child care subsidies, co-pays, deductibles and cost-sharing, the U.S. has not only the largest uninsured population, but also the most expensive system on Earth per capita.
Why America doesn’t have a universal healthcare system has historically been explained away with a reductionist mix of pathologizing and circular reasoning. "America hates big government," "we love choice," "Americans distrust anything that reeks of socialism." And while this is true in some limited sense, it avoids the bigger question of why has American so-called "democracy" rejected the numerous proposals to enact a single payer or other forms of universal healthcare?
While there may be some innate Protestant work ethic or rugged individual mentality at work here, there’s also been a decades-long multimillion dollar campaign funded by big business, doctor, pharmaceutical and hospital industry interests, and the insurance industry to convince the public to reject universal public healthcare. Indeed, if Americans were somehow intractably opposed to the notion––if they were hardwired to reject socialized medicine––these forces would never have had to spend so much money in the first place.
On this episode, we explore the 80-year long campaign by capital to convince you to not support universal health programs, how these campaigns have historically fear-mongered against Communists, immigrants and African Americans, who benefits from a precarious, employer-controlled healthcare insurance system, and how this propaganda war on the American mind is anything but over.
Our guest is Ben Palmquist, Director of the Health Care and Economic Democracy Program at Partners for Dignity and Rights.