This country made several attempts since after World War 1 to provide every American, regardless of income, access to health care. Finally, in 2010, President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act ( ACA ) which would aim to cover most of the 47 million uninsured.
The people of this country, the richest in the world, waited long enough. The only developed country without any health insurance with the metrics to show it. It spends 17.9 % of its GDP on the health of its nationals or $8,607.9 per person per year. Yet, it ranks among the lowest among the developed countries in terms of health metrics. (A table is included to illustrate this point. I have included Cuba to represent the poor countries.)
Country HC Spend 1 MD cont 2 Mort rate 3 Mater Mort 4
Cuba 429.8 (10%) 67.23 476 73
Canada 4520 (11%) 19.75 320 12
United States 8607 (17.9) 24.22 460 21
France 4085 (11.6) 34.47 360 8
World Health Organization Statistics 2011
1. Health care spending (percent of Gross domestic product GDP) 2.Doctor per 10,000 population 3.Mortality rate deaths per 100,000 population 4. Maternal mortality maternal
Furthermore, it has been estimated that the United States spends approximately one third of its health care dollars on care that is unnecessary and on care that is sometimes harmful. Most experts knowledgeable about this issue think that some 30,000 people die every year because of either medications given to them or surgeries performed on them that are not indicated.
Will the recent law (ACA) enacted by Congress and President Obama solved these problems? I doubt it, but it is a start. It will give millions the care they need to prevent suffering and premature deaths. But it is also to be expected that health care professionals will provide more unnecessary care whose cost society will have to assume.
One must keep in mind that more care does not mean better care. The politicians and the health care professionals will have to consider other means of delivery, improvement in the education of doctors, and the taming of the litigiousness of the American society; The Affordable Care Act is just the beginning.