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Health Care Facts

What Is To Be Done?

Most industrialized nations assure that all their citizens have health insurance. In fact, the United States is the only fully industrialized country in the world besides South Africa that does not require that all citizens be covered. Other nations accomplish universal coverage through either a national health care program- such as England or Canada- or through programs that require employers to pay for health insurance and citizens to have it. In both cases, taxes on businesses and citizens pay for the programs.

Lawmakers and advocates for universal coverage in the United States have, since the 1930s, proposed numerous plans to extend health insurance to all Americans. Several such plans have been debated at length in Congress. None has ever come to a vote. In 1965, Congress enacted Medicare and Medicaid. Those two programs now cover 73 million elderly, low-income and disabled Americans. Taxes on businesses and individuals pay for both programs.

In 1993, President Clinton proposed a plan to cover all Americans by requiring employers to offer insurance and pay the lion's share of the cost. It failed when Congress did not take up the legislation and could not reach consensus on an alternative plan.

Many experts agree that, until all legal residents in the United States have health insurance, assuring high quality of care for everyone will be difficult; the cost of medical care will be harder to control, and the number of uninsured people will grow larger and larger.


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