I think people in the US are very fearful that having a Universal system might lead to socialism or at least a European-type Social Democracy. There is a strong underlying political belief here about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, and this is seen by some as a step towards a welfare state with handouts for all.
There are many examples of different and fabulous universal systems throughout the world, but since there are different types and many American beliefs tied up in the perception of those systems, I think it gets confusing. The message here is one of “fear the changes”.
The Republican right has done a very effective job of getting people to be fearful and resistant to alternative health care structure. In fact people seem to be as resistant to a public health care option as they are to universal health care. In a public option, anyone could opt in to a government funded system if they wanted to, but they wouldn’t be required to partake in… Having a public option would put pressure on the insurance companies to keep their profit margins lower, and so would likely benefit both privately and publically insured individuals.
Personally, as a physician who works in an ER every day, I think if something doesn’t change significantly soon, the system is going to fail all people… not just the uninsured. We are completely stretched to the brink right now, and every time an uninsured person walks through the ER doors, they get uncompensated care which means their charges are passed on to everyone else who is insured. It’s a vicious cycle.
I would encourage everyone, regardless of their stance on the issue to read about the proposed system in HR3200, read about the public option, and read about the health care systems in Canada, Germany, Australia, the UK, France and other places to figure out what you like and don’t like… Then for Americans to use what they learn to participate in the debate in an educated and civil way.
The US is the only developed nation without coverage for all of it’s citizens, and this is reflected in our lower health status than other developed nations.
Hope this helps. I’m in no way trying to be partisan. I just am trying to explain the polarization and how it is deeply rooted in the American ethos.