What is even more remarkable is that commenters seeking to maintain the case continue to defend the argument by inventing other totally false (and easily refuted) “facts” such as attributing the quality of his care to his “extreme wealth” (as the graduate student son of a middle class academic when the disease first struck) or to the fact that the NHS was not involved in his early years (though it has been around for all but one of my own 62 years and had already been for almost 20 when Hawking first became ill). What is particularly discouraging on reading the comments is that it becomes hard in many cases to tell which (on both sides) are intended to be serious and which are trying to mock the other side by taking ridiculously extreme and unfounded positions.
Fortunately, the commenters on these stories include a number from the UK who give good examples of how the system actually works.
But while much of the world can afford to laugh at the Americans, we in Canada have more at stake because our proximity and cultural interdependence with the US makes us vulnerable to the well-financed lie machine. Each medicare debate in the US feels like an attempt to eliminate a deeply rooted infection, and each failure leaves us open to reinfection by a more virulent strain from the pustule of private user-pay health care.