Michigan Universal Health Care Access Network

Home Page Politics 2000 News/Comment Publications Organization Links

United States Health Care Factsheet

1. There is a crisis in U. S. health care.

Fact: U. S. national health expenditures were $1.3 trillion in 1996. This is 14% of the gross domestic product. (This compares with $26.9 billion or 5.1% of GNP in 1960.)
Fact: There are over 42, 000,000 Americans without health insurance; this includes 10 million children.
Fact: Those who now have health insurance can lose it by becoming seriously ill, by losing a job, by changing jobs, by needing treatment for a condition the insurance company determines to be "pre-existing."
Fact: For-profit HMOs' control over the health care industry is approaching 25% and this percentage is rapidly growing. For-profit HMOs control 60% of the managed-care industry. This has resulted in:
  • A decrease in quality of care because profits are put before patients.
  • Less patient choice of physician and treatment.
  • Increased red tape, bureaucracy, and administration.
Fact: U. S. rank in world health care statistics has fallen rapidly. For example, the U.S. ranks 17th in the world in the rate of infant mortality.

2. Universal Health Care (a Single Payer System) Can Ease the Crisis.

Fact: It will put the patient's health before the business' profits.
Fact: It will offer quality health care to all.
Fact: Patients will have more control over choice of physician and treatment.
Fact: It will greatly reduce administrative bureaucracy, red tape and paperwork, which means more money can be put towards providing care.

3. Universal Health Care Costs Less Than Our Present System.

Let's compare costs:

Type of cost United States Canada
Per capita health care cost (1994) $3510 $1982
Administrative cost as % of total 26% 9%
Cost for typical family of four, gross income $35,000/year, with average coverage $5780



(full coverage)


[1] This is paid by the individual in premium contributions, out-of-pocket expenses, co-pays, uncovered services and falling wages as employer health care costs rise, etc.

[2] This is paid through a public tax system, shared fairly by all, based on a national budget.

4. People Want a Real Change

Fact: In 1996, 80% of Americans said:
  • "something is seriously wrong with our health care system."
  • "The quality of health care is compromised in the interest of profit."
  • "Quality health care is almost unaffordable for the average person."
(International Communication Research,

January, 1997.)

Fact: Most doctors oppose for-profit HMOs:
  • 75% see a loss of autonomy.
  • 70% see a decrease in quality of care.
(MSMS Survey of Physicians Characteristics,


5. What "Single-Payer" Health Care is NOT

It is NOT socialized medicine: Doctors and providers are independent, not employed by the government.
It is NOT managed care: Health care providers, not insurance company executives and clerks, make clinical decisions.
It is NOT corporate medicine: It is not profit-driven but patient-driven.