On July 30, single-payer advocates staged a rally on Capitol Hill to demand why Congress wasn't even considering enacting a single-payer health system. The usual answer you hear from Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and others is that the United States requires a solution to its health care crisis that's "uniquely American."
This smug cliché, as I have complained before, encapsulates the American political establishment's hubristic refusal to consider how other industrialized countries tackle the problem at the practical level. Health care reform, it is said, must reflect distinctly American values, and that's why Congress resolutely ignores the single-payer model favored in Canada; the Bismarckian nonprofit model favored in France, Germany, and Japan; and the socialized model favored in the U.K., Spain, and much of Scandinavia.
Even on its own terms, though, the argument doesn't hold up.