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