Many Americans were puzzled about the attention that was given to Britain's NHS in the opening ceremony. They don't understand why the public, and even conservative politicians in Britain, are proud of the NHS. The US healthcare system provides excellent healthcare for those who have insurance, but millions are not covered by insurance, and there is political resistance against policies which extend coverage to the uninsured. The NHS covers everyone at less cost per person than the inefficient US system that relies upon private insurance and a cumbersome payment system that increases the overhead burden for healthcare providers. The US system also reduces the take home pay of insured workers who have less money to spend on other goods and services as their share of insurance premiums rises faster than inflation.
Defenders of the US system make their appeal primarily to ideologies that have been successfully embedded in the US culture. There is a powerful anti-government sentiment, and many Americans have been told that government programs will take away the consumer sovereignty that all consumers are supposed to have. Ironically, there is strong public support for Medicare in the US, but there is not enough popular support for extending Medicare to everyone to influence Congress. Lobbying by insurance companies, and healthcare providers, has had the dominant impact on healthcare policy in the US.