Universal Coverage, Health, Equity, and Value: Moving Beyond a Divided Congress

The World Health Organization defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” If we could write a prescription for America that would surely be it. And if we could fill that prescription by spending more money on the U.S. health care system, we would already be there. Yet, fifty years of evidence tells us that the promise of health care for all Americans is not the same as a healthy America. In 1968 the U.S. was spending 6.2% of its GDP on health care. Today we are spending almost 18%, yet life expectancy has declined three years in a row, driven largely by inequality and economic hardship, particularly in working class America.