It's not exactly the same as the NHS... it's somewhere inbetween their existing system and what we have. From http://obama-healthcare-reform.com/, this is a list of the main proposals:
- Require insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions so all Americans regardless of their health status or history can get comprehensive benefits at fair and stable premiums.
- Create a new Small Business Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to their employees.
- Lower costs for businesses by covering a portion of the catastrophic health costs they pay in return for lower premiums for employees.
- Prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors.
- Make employer contributions more fair by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of their employees’ health care.
- Establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.
- Ensure everyone who needs it will receive a tax credit for their premiums.
Like most Brits, I think this is something which could greatly benefit Americans. I find it shocking that in this day an age a country as advanced as the US has millions of people (including several million children) who do not have access to proper healthcare either because they can't afford it, or can't get it (for reasons such as pre-existing medical problems). I find it shocking that woman go into hospital to have a baby and get given a bill for thousands of pounds to cover their emergency caesarian section and the lifesaving treatment of them and their new baby. I find it shocking that women cannot choose to give birth in the way that they want to (e.g. with a midwife) because their insurance won't cover it, because it's too restrictive.
Like most Brits, I believe health care should be a right, not a privilege for the rich. The difference is, many Americans think the opposite.
The other reasons why some Americans are against the proposals:
- they do not see it as their responsibility to pay for others healthcare
- they're worried about what it'll cost them in taxes
- some seem to confuse the issue with another of Obama's health policies, the one which allows abortion to remain legal. Anti-abortion Americans (and there's far more than in the UK. Partly as we're generally a more liberal country) tend to be against Obama's healthcare reforms because all they see is the abortion policy and ignore the rest. Never mind if children are dying because they don't have healthcare... just as long as there's no abortions. Seems a bit contradictory to me... :P
- Americans tend to place far more importance than Brits on CHOICE. Brits are generally happy with going to any hospital, seeing any doctor, as long as the treatment they recieve is of a good standard, and free. Americans fear that having a national healthcare system will remove their choices... e.g. the choice to have a private room... the choice of which hospital to go to... which consultant to see (e.g. the one recommended by a friend :P). Personally this concept seems a bit bizarre to me... as someone who works in the NHS it seems the priority should be good health care for all.
The NHS works in Britain. It's not perfect, but I'm sure the vast majority of Brits would much prefer what we have to the alternative which the Americans have.