The Health Care Crisis in America

While the public debate has primarily focused on costs and how to keep insurance companies profitable, millions of Americans have been living without health care. A study by the Harvard Medical School found that annually 45,000 deaths in the U.S. are linked to lack of health coverage. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 46.3 million people in the U.S. did not have health coverage in 2008, Reuters.

“We’re losing more Americans every day because of inaction … than drunk driving and homicide combined,” Dr. David Himmelstein, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, said in an interview with Reuters.

A USA Today special report looks at what happens when the uninsured are forced to use the emergency room as a last resort for care, USA Today.

A poll by Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York found that a majority of doctors support the public option which would create a plan administered by the federal government that individuals could buy like private insurance, NPR.

In what was described as the largest free health care clinic in U.S. history, more than 2,000 received free care for health problems at Reliant Center in Houston, Texas last September, KRTK-TV.

The progressive website Daily Kos features an examination of the salaries and total compensation of health insurance industry executives, Daily Kos. Health care costs have been rising faster than the rate of inflation for several decades. The average cost of health care for a family through an employer-sponsored plan in 2008 was $12,680, Hidden Costs of Health Care Report.

The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer offers a comparison of five international health care systems: Japan, the Netherlands, Canada, the United States and Mexico, NewsHour Online. The NewsHour’s health homepage, Global Health Watch.

The radio program This American Life is featuring an hour-long examination of the U.S. health care system and why it is so expensive, #391, More is Less.

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