The American Healthcare System

Here is a summary of how the American Healtcare System works. This text is an extract from an article is taken from Wikipedia:

Health care in the United States is provided by many separate legal entities. Health care facilities are largely owned and operated by the private sector. Health insurance is primarily provided by the private sector, with the exception of programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program and the Veterans Health Administration. At least 15% of the population is completely uninsured,and a substantial additional portion of the population is "underinsured", or less than fully insured for medical costs they might incur. More money per person is spent on health care in the United States than in any other nation in the world,and a greater percentage of total income in the nation is spent on health care in the U.S. than in any United Nations member state except for Tuvalu. Medical debt is the principal cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States.

According to data compiled and published by multiple international pharmaceutical trade groups, the US is the world leader in biomedical research and development as well as the introduction of new biomedical products; pharmaceutical trade organizations also maintain that the high cost of health care in the U.S. has encouraged substantial reinvestment in such research and development.

Active debate about health care reform in the United States concerns questions of a right to health care, access, fairness, efficiency, cost, and quality. Many have argued that the system does not deliver equivalent value for the money spent. The US pays twice as much yet lags other wealthy nations in such measures as infant mortality and life expectancy. Currently the U.S. has a higher infant mortality rate than most of the world's industrialized nations. The USA's life expectancy lags 42nd in the world, after most rich nations, lagging last of the G5 (Japan, France, Germany, UK, USA) and just after Chile (35th) and Cuba (37th).The World Health Organization (WHO), in 2000, ranked the U.S. health care system as the highest in cost, first in responsiveness, 37th in overall performance, and 72nd by overall level of health (among 191 member nations included in the study). A 2008 report by the Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States last in the quality of health care among the 19 compared countries.

According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the United States is the "only wealthy, industrialized nation that does not ensure that all citizens have coverage" (i.e. some kind of insurance).[The same Institute of Medicine report notes that "Lack of health insurance causes roughly 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year in the United States." While a 2009 Harvard study published in the American Journal of Public Health found a much higher figure of more than 44,800 excess deaths annually in the United States due to Americans lacking health insurance.More broadly, the total number of people in the United States, whether insured or uninsured, who die because of lack of medical care was estimated in a 1997 analysis to be nearly 100,000 per year.


A health maintenance organization (HMO) is a type of managed care organization (MCO) that provides a form of health care coverage in the United States that is fulfilled through hospitals, doctors, and other providers with which the HMO has a contract. The Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973 required employers with 25 or more employees to offer federally certified HMO options. Unlike traditional indemnity insurance, an HMO covers only care rendered by those doctors and other professionals who have agreed to treat patients in accordance with the HMO's guidelines and restrictions in exchange for a steady stream of customers.