The current American health care system consists of many types of privately- and publicly-funded health insurance plans, all of which offer various types of health care services. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, based on The World Health Report 2000, Health Systems: Improving Performance, the U.S. health care system was ranked 37th in the world.
The U.S. has one of the best medical research systems in the world. Researchers from institutions such as Harvard Medical School, the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic are world-renowned for the advances they are making in medicine, largely because of the current free-market system. For those who have jobs with great benefits or those who can afford it, some American insurance plans are some of the best in the world. Another advantage of the current American health care system is that taxpayers do not bear the expense associated with providing medical insurance to every single person. Health care costs in the U.S. are higher than any country in the world and a system in which all Americans would be insured would only serve to increase these costs, at the expense of the taxpayers. Many people argue that tax money would take funding away from education and national security to fund a new health care system.
One of the biggest disadvantages of the current American health care system is that people spend much more in the U.S. for health care, but Americans are not healthier than other nations that spend much less. The amount of money spent on health care in America is staggering. The U.S. spends more of its total GDP (gross domestic product) on health care than any country in the world. In 2001, the U.S. spent nearly 14 percent of its total GDP on health care. A major disadvantage of the American health care system is the fact that many individuals are underinsured or uninsured. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2003, 60 percent of Americans were covered by employer-based health insurance, 26 percent were covered by government-based health insurance and 15 percent were without health insurance.
Proposed Health Care Legislation
The current proposals for health care reform in the U.S. focus mainly on extending insurance coverage to all Americans, decreasing the costs through improved efficiencies and expanding the breadth and depth of prevention and wellness programs.