The American public still has surprisingly few details about the proposed legislation for healthcare reform. In this knowledge vac_m, hyperbole and political fighting rush in. We get only headlines and adverts about ‘death panels’ or the imagined utopia of a single-payer system.

As an American citizen, this is extremely frustrating. I have been the beneficiary of both very good and very limited health insurance throughout my life here. I also lived in the UK for 2 years and was part of the NHS. While one can find horror stories for both healthcare systems, for the vast majority of its citizens, each system works well for its respective country.

But the debate on healthcare reform raises other, bigger questions, which is why we need to take sufficient time and care to consider this legislation. It’s not just about 16% of the GDP. We are now asking, Is healthcare a right? Does mandating health insurance defy the constitution? What role should a limited Federal government – as originally proposed by our Founding Fathers – play in healthcare delivery? Can we afford healthcare reform with heretofore unimaginable national debt? Who do we want controlling our healthcare decisions?

This is an historic moment in the US. I hate to see us wasting our time, money, and energy on silly namecalling. Sian Claire Owen takes an inside look at some of this professionally-organised namecalling at the UK, and the published response in the British Medical Journal.