Apparently something political has happened in America which will have some sort of effect on how Americans pay their hospital bills, a subject towards which I am passionately indifferent. The only important aspect of the debate, which nobody else seems to have touched on, is linguistic.
There is a tiny difference between the ways that we in Britain and they in America talk. If an Englishman is injured he ends up in hospital, the same goes for Canadians and Australians. If an American is injured he ends up in the hospital.
You can confirm this little tic with a few country-specific google searches for the specific phrase "the hospital". Here are Britain, USA, Canada, Australia. The USA does have some uses of "in hospital" but they're always in the headlines where definite articles can be omitted anyway.
This made me think about the other places you can be in without a definite article. As an Englishman I can be (and usually am) in the pub. I am at the shops. I spend an evening in the cinema. The only unarticled places are school and prison, both of which are paid for through taxes.
Americans also spend time in school and prison without a the and in America both of those are also provided by the government. The reason that I brought in Canada and Australia earlier on is that there seems to be a direct correlation between government funding and the definite article.
This is especially odd as Canadian English is usually dominated by their mutinous neighbours to the South. But all healthcare in Canada is public (except on Indian reservations, which is because of clauses about medicine men in ancient treaties that can now be splendidly profitable).
So here's my theory (and it is only a theory): if you usually pick and pay for your hospital (or anything else) you will tend to think of it as a far more specific thing than you would if it were a ubiquitous and remotely funded service. The definite article is part of the market system.
As I say, it's only a theory; but it fits facts, especially Canada. Howls of derision in the comments, please.
Canadian medical policy getting sorted out