Selling Universal Healthcare

SELLING UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE….Steve Benen points to polling data that says 70% of Americans think the government spends too little on healthcare and concludes, “Public opinion is already leaning towards single payer, whether they’re familiar with the phrase or not.”

I have my doubts about how strongly the public actually believes this, but Steve’s point is still well taken: we may have a long public opinion battle in front of us, but at least we’re not literally trying to change people’s minds. Most Americans are already receptive to the idea that the government should take on a bigger role in healthcare.

He’s also right to focus on the public opinion aspect of the battle for universal healthcare, something that conservatives have long understood better than liberals. And it raises a question worth asking: what’s the best way of selling single-payer healthcare to the American public? Here are my two favorite themes:

  • Hammer on the notion that it’s crazy to rely on employers as the main healthcare suppliers in America. After all, why should they be? A car company should be a car company, not a healthcare supplier. Along the same lines: Why should you have to pay the price every time your HR department decides to switch to a cheaper health plan? Or lose coverage if you get laid off? Or be forced to keep a dead end job forever because it provides health coverage and you’re uninsurable anywhere else?

  • Work on reducing the fear of national healthcare systems in other countries. When this subject comes up conservatives will always trot out their favorite tropes (waiting lines for hip replacements in Canada!) and to counter this we need to educate people about how good most of these systems are in real life. The vast, vast majority of Americans would be better off under a good national healthcare system than they are now, and we need to convince them of that.

These things are both the work of years, so now’s the time to start. Any other ideas?