I was back in the States this week, on a cruise ship actually, for my sister's wedding. She had a number of friends aboard; most were conservative Republicans from middle and southwestern Connecticut. These people were generally well-educated, high earners who contribute heavily to political campaigns. She also had some friends from Australia attend as well.
During cocktail hour there was a lot of conversation about my work in the UK and the NHS. The people from Connecticut repeated many of the tales of horror I've heard over and over again about the NHS, most of which are about 20 years out of date. They were surprised to learn I actually like working in the NHS and feel that it is an organization to be proud of. The friends from Australia also talked about their National Health Service (modeled after the UK), what it really costs them in taxes and what they felt the quality of treatment was (excellent - their daughter required intensive care for four months immediately after birth due to a congenital abnormality).
The people from Connecticut then started sharing horror stories about their own health plans. Things like getting dropped when someone got sick, exorbitant premiums, huge deductibles and copayments, not to mention high FICA taxes, topped their lists of complaints. At the end of the evening, they realized they were actually paying more for care that wasn't as good as what is available in the UK and Australia. They weren't happy.
What I find disturbing is this group of well-educated and successful people really hadn't gathered all the information necessary to make informed decisions about how they would like healthcare to change. They all acknowledged that something had to change, but had no concrete ideas of their own. They were vocal in denouncing "Obama-care" though.
I don't mind when people don't agree with me as long as they have real thought and information behind their arguments. It is not enough to parrot either Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann and then vote or fund campaigns based upon news bites. Our very well-being depends on each of us becoming more educated about healthcare and then making sure our friends, families and leaders are as well.