The United States is the only industrialized democracy in the world that does not guarantee all its citizens access to medical care, while also spending a higher percentage of its economy on health care than any country in the world. Liberals harp constantly on this bad kind of American exceptionalism. Conservatives tend to ignore international comparisons, except for the purpose of regularly pulling out horror stories about some poor Canadian or Brit who suffered terribly at the hands of socialized medicine. Sometimes they say the United States has the best health-care system in the world. The thing Republicans don’t do, for obvious reasons, is speak fondly of socialized medicine in other countries.
Last night, meeting publicly with Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, Trump blurted out, “I shouldn’t say this to a great gentleman and my friend from Australia, because you have better health care than we do.” This provoked a great deal of mockery, given that the country has a single-payer system. The White House tried to clean up the president’s comments. “I think he was simply being complimentary of the prime minister and I don’t think it was much more than that,” explained Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. “The president was complimenting a foreign leader on the operations of their health-care system.” Just empty praise! Trump only meant that for a dystopian socialist nightmare, the Australian version is one of the more smoothly operating ones out there.
But Trump, who does not understand ideology, took to Twitter to offer his own explanation. Yes, he really does think Australia has a better system than the United States. Indeed, he thinks everybody does:
So, the only industrialized democracy in the world that does not have government-run health care also has the worst health care in the world, according to the Republican president of the United States. And that president is trying to strip back government involvement in health care while massively increasing the number of his citizens who will lack access to medical care. One might begin to suspect a minimal government role in health-care finance is a strategy that leads to bad health-care outcomes.