We all know that Americans say:
Sara is going to the hospital
While in the UK, they would say (and Americans would never say):
Sara is going to hospital
I'm wondering what the history of this difference is given that in AE, the usage of the "the" modifier seems extraordinarily arbitrary: Americans would say:
Sara is going to school
to mean that Sara is going to be enrolled in school. While they would say:
Sara is going to the school
to mean that Sara is going a particular school building (not enrolled).
To me this intuitively suggests some sort of lack of "personal" connection with the concept of a hospital which is not there when it comes to concepts like "school" or "church".
Now for the leap: does this perhaps have anything to do that in the US, healthcare has been a private entity (until recent occurrences), and not generally regarded as a personal right (but rather, a privilege)? I know this is a stretch, but this could be an explanation for the "impersonal" way in which AE uses the word — unless my history is all wrong here? No politics here, just curious about the root of this difference.