Obamacare, you’ll like it because … ?
Why are Brits so proud of their health care system? Because they don’t know any better.
The British population has largely been persuaded that the NHS embodies social justice. The system has become a golden calf before which even Margaret Thatcher found it necessary to bow down: “The NHS is safe in our hands,” she said. And the egalitarian nature of the NHS makes it almost the only institution in a fractured and antagonistic society that can claim allegiance across many divides. We are not proud of our armed forces any longer or, indeed, of anything else; only the NHS survives to unite us. We increasingly are a nation defined by our health-care system.
In my youth, I often heard the refrain that the NHS was “the envy of the world,” and people in Britain are still inclined to believe it, even though they probably have never met anyone who envied the NHS and, indeed, know only of Continental Europeans residing in Britain who hurry home as soon as they require medical treatment, horrified by the prospect of subjecting themselves to the rigors of a British hospital. A marked cognitive dissonance reveals itself here.
They did feature the NHS in their Olympic Opening Ceremony. Which … weird, right?