Document Type

White Paper


University of Maine Bureau of Labor Education

Publication Date

Summer 2001

Publisher location

Orono, Maine

Abstract/ Summary

For many years, politicians and insurance companies could blithely proclaim that the U.S. had the best health care system in the world, but as its major shortcomings become more visible, Americans are finding it harder to accept this assertion. The 42.6 million people in the U.S. currently without health insurance are acutely aware that our health care system is not working for everyone, and there is growing recognition that the major problems of rising costs and lack of access constitute a real crisis. However, the search for solutions has not been easy or clear cut. Policymakers often attempt to address the symptoms of our health care crisis through short-term, patchwork solutions, under the pressure of time and the constraints of political decision-making, rather than analyzing the system itself as a whole. One important step in searching for effective longer-term solutions is to ask a deceptively simple two-fold question: how can we know whether a health care system is both "good" - that is, how well it does its job - and fair, in terms of financing health costs? If we can then analyze how well our health system performs, in comparison to other countries in the world, we will have a basis from which to explore possible alternatives.


publisher's version of the published document

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