on the status quo

We want to set the stage for collaboration by arming you with knowledge and inviting you to the conversation. Every effort is taken to keep content rooted in fact; references are provided throughout each post.


Lots of time is spent complaining about how broken/inefficient/negative-adjective-of-your-choosing the American health care system is. Considerably less effort is used to actually explain what that system is, or what we mean by “broken.” That’s not surprising, it’s a heinously complex beast–and therein lies the problem. Complex equals costly, and the United States spends more on health care than any other country in the world.

When we talk about the system as a whole, we’re talking about the patients, the providers (medical professionals and institutions that provide care), and the payment systems that connect them. Note that “payment systems” is plural–this is because the United States has a mixed public-private system where some people are covered by private insurance (often through an employer) and others are covered by the government (you’re probably familiar with Medicaid and Medicare, but there are also the VA system for veterans, IHS for Native Americans, and CHIP for children)


In March 2010, President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, referred to by some as “Obamacare”) into law. At 906 pages (click here for the full text), it’s a lengthy read. Rather than trying to explain it ourselves, we’re going to refer to this handy video by the Kaiser Family Foundation. 906 pages in 9 minutes; hard to beat that.

How Does the Quality of U.S. Healthcare Compare Internationally? – Urban Institute via RWJF
Kaiser Fast Facts – Kaiser Family Foundation
The State of Working America – The Economic Policy Institute

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