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Health Care

In Brief

The United States spends twice per capita what other major industrialized countries spend on health care, with $1 of every $5 of national income going toward health care and spending expected to reach $4.2 trillion in 2016, or 20 percent of the GDP. At the same time, the United States was ranked last in preventable mortality among developed nations, just below Ireland and Portugal, with 47 million Americans lacking health insurance, according to the Commonwealth Fund's analysis of World Health Organization data.

While many states are endeavoring to reform health care for their citizens with independent legislation and funds, others have proposed overhauling the system at the national level, suggesting universal health coverage. Government spending accounts for a growing portion of the medical economy, reaching 46 percent in 2006 as Medicare Part D's coverage of prescription drugs took effect. Some contend that managed care helps control costs, but many patients and doctors say it has hurt quality of care.

The Obama administration has made reforming health care reform one of its top priorities. "Fixing what's wrong with our health care system is no longer just a moral imperative, but a fiscal imperative," President Barack Obama said at a White House summit about health care overhaul, emphasizing that reform is expected to help bolster the economy. He has asked Congress to earmark $634 billion from the federal budget to fund health care reform over the next 10 years. To learn more, or offer your input, visit the official health care reform Web site, HealthReform.gov, maintained by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

The following resources provide information on the challenges of health care reform:

General Health Care Resources

  • Public Agenda: Health Care
    This nonpartisan, nonprofit public opinion research and citizen education organization provides an overview of the issues, recent articles, resources and public opinion data.

    Government Health Care Resources

  • Medicaid
    Official Web site detailing the government's Medicaid program, which helps provide health care to certain low-income individuals and families.

  • Medicare
    Official Web site detailing the government's Medicare program, which helps provide health care to people age 65 or older, in addition to some disabled and sick people under age 65.

  • The White House on health care
    Read about the Obama administration's health care agenda.




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