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Health Insurance in the United States

 In simple terms, health insurance refers to an insurance that pays for all or part of a person's health care bills. A person may postpone certain day to day expenses, however, when it comes to medical emergencies, one may not be able to postpone and it needs to be attended immediately. The treatment involves cost and if there is no provision the patient may not be able to get the treatment, which in turn may result into deterioration of health or it may even cause death of the patient. According to a study published by the American Journal of Public Health, nearly 45000 annual deaths are associated with lack of health insurance.

Health care costs in the United States have been rising for several years. Health care expenditure surpassed $2.3 trillion in 2008, more than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990, and over eight times the $253 billion spent in 1980. In 2008, U.S. health care spending was about $7,681 per resident and accounted for 16.2% of the nation´s Gross Domestic Product (GDP); this is among the highest of all industrialized countries. Though the US government spending on health care is very high, it does not eliminate the need for individual health insurance as people often spend a huge amount on healthcare with private medical service providers.

Health care in the United States is provided by federal as well as state-wise legal entities. Health care facilities are largely owned and operated by the private sector. Health insurance in US is primarily divided into programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Veterans Health Administration. According to the Institute of Medicine of the United States National Academies, the USA is the "only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage" (i.e., some kind of private or public health insurance). The end result being that a large percentage of US population is still without any health coverage.

If we look into the statistics about 45 million people in the United States had no health insurance coverage in 2007 ie. more than one in every six (17%) of the population under age 65. Of the 45 million Americans without health insurance, 8.7 million are children. Percentage of adults in the age group of 18-64 was 21%. Because employers are increasingly shifting health care costs to employees. As a result, America´s workers struggle to pay higher premiums, deductibles and co-payments –if they can afford such coverage at all. The USA pays twice as much yet lags behind other wealthy nations in such measures as infant mortality and life expectancy.

Political willingness can definitely bring about a sea change in the percentage of population with health insurance coverage. The U.S. system of providing health care coverage is employer-based. Hence, by introducing new incentives and new rules for employers that makes them pay their fair share. Unfortunately, this system leaves too many working families uninsured or under-insured. Fifty-six percent of uninsured workers worked full-time in 2002.

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