Commentary: U.S. healthcare needs reforming

This editorial appeared in The Charlotte Observer.

Today, President Obama convenes a White House summit conference on health care reform. It's about time.

A mythology exists in America: "We have the finest health care in the world." That's simply wrong. The U.S. health care system is broken.

Some 45 million Americans – 17 percent – lacked health care last year. With rising layoffs, the number will grow.

A quarter of Americans last year had problems paying for insurance or medical bills, a Kaiser Family Foundation survey found.

Half of U.S. personal bankruptcies are attributed to medical bills.

This country spends a larger proportion of its GDP on health care (15 percent) than any U.N. member except the Marshall Islands. And we get less in return. The U.S. ranks 23rd in life expectancy, 25th in infant mortality. The World Health Organization ranks our care at No. 37.

We have top-notch medical schools and fine doctors, if you can afford them. But the total health picture is sobering – and embarrassing.

When reform was attempted in the 1990s, opponents raised the specter of government bureaucrats, not doctors, deciding your care. Today, of course, millions of Americans already have bureaucrats deciding their care – not from the government but from insurance companies.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.

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