Theories on why Americans are willing to tolerate a fucked-up healthcare system

A baffled Australian wrote on Twitter: “I’ll never understand why so many Americans are against affordable healthcare for their fellow citizens.” This is just a quick and dirty run-down of some theories about why the US continues to have such a fucked-up healthcare system:

  1. Cult of individualism taken to extreme. Conservatives in particular, and conservative white men in particular, are frequently convinced that they did everything in life with no help and it would be better if everyone else did the same. It might be part of the frontier mentality which is still recent and attractive in the US collective memory.
  2. US evangelical religions say illness comes from being a bad person. This is the “prosperity gospel” that underlies Rep Paul Ryan’s policies. If God thinks you are good, he blesses you with health and wealth. If God thinks you are not good, he gives you poverty and illness, and it’s human arrogance to try to overturn that. No, I am not kidding.
  3. Slavery taught Americans that healthcare must be “earned”. This probably sounds like a stretch until you read about it more. Check this article out:
  4. Americans tend to conflate “capitalism” with “being American”, therefore everything in the US, even healthcare, must be subject to capitalism.
  5. The US is still a child as a country and thinks it doesn’t need to look to how other countries do well.
  6. Decades of US right-wing propaganda have taught many people to hate all taxes, even if they’d help people.
  7. The US isn’t particularly united. There’s not a strong feeling of “we’re all in this together”.

There may be more, and maybe some of these have the same underlying cause. But if you’re not an American, this should help a little with understanding why Americans are willing to tolerate a system that doesn’t cover everyone and that’s far more expensive than it needs to be.