A hybrid system of public and private markets ensures the delivery of health care to all Americans. Leadership in areas such as medical science, medical technology and pharmaceuticals exemplifies the dynamism of the American system.
America leads the world in medical science
Of the 143 Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine awarded since 1945, 87 have gone to Americans. Six of the seven women who have ever won Nobel Prizes in Physiology or Medicine did so based partially or entirely on their work in the United States.
America leads the world in medical technology
America is home to inventions ranging from the Band-Aid to the artificial heart. The United States is also a global destination for patients in pursuit of high-quality care. Of the health care travelers motivated by advanced medical technology, more visit the United States than any other country.
America leads the world in pharmaceutical development
The polio vaccine, HIV antivirals and the first statin demonstrate America’s role as a pharmaceutical pioneer. Between 1996 and 2006, American pharmaceutical companies developed over 160 drugs to treat rare diseases. With twelve of the largest 20 pharmaceutical companies based in the United States, more research and development goes on in America than anywhere else. Despite this, pharmaceutical spending as a percentage of overall health expenses is lower in the United States than the OECD average.
Every American has a legal access to health care
Millions of Americans lack health insurance--most only temporarily but some chronically. Even for the uninsured, however, a variety of laws ensure broad levels of access to care. For example, all hospitals are subject to a law that requires the stabilization of any patient exhibiting emergent conditions. The two largest health entitlement programs, Medicare and Medicaid, provide primarily for the over-65 and lower-income populations, respectively. These federal programs are supplemented by a variety of state health care programs.
American patients experience better outcomes
Oncology is just one area in which the United States excels, as America consistently leads the field in the treatment of breast, prostate, colon and rectal cancers. Non-Americans continue to travel to the United States to seek the world-leading care at hospitals such as the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins and the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.
The American system balances public and private care
The World Health Organization finds that the most responsive care in the world is delivered by the American system, 56 percent of which is financed publicly.
Public health programs are robust and well-targeted
The United States is home to over 1,000 health clinics that are federally funded and federally qualified. Furthermore, America is a world leader in health education domestically and abroad.
Americans are currently debating the future of health care
Major challenges include controlling costs and eliminating coverage gaps for the millions of Americans who lack health insurance at some point in the year--typically because of job changes. One contributing factor is the current patchwork health care system. Liberals promote moving toward a single-payer, government-run system. Conservatives propose allowing individuals to choose and control their own health insurance from a market of competitive options and to receive the same tax breaks currently available to employers but not individuals.
America is a leading innovator in the provision of personal choice in health care
A good example is the Federal Employees Health Benefit Program for federal workers and retirees. It is a unique system based on consumer choice and competition that empowers individuals to choose among hundreds of health insurance options, offers access to virtually every physician in the country, has nearly perfect patient satisfaction rates and effectively controls cost. This federal program is a model for expanding competition and choice.
Who Killed Health Care, Regina Herzlinger
Patient Power, by John C. Goodman and Gerald Musgrave
Health Benefits at Work: An Economic and Political Analysis of Employment-Based Health Insurance, Mark V. Pauly