KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Explainers And Studies On Health Insurance

Several news outlets seek to explain some of the unique aspects of U.S. health insurance.

The Associated Press examines why the United States is "the only wealthy industrialized nation that does not have universal health coverage." The U.S. health system "was shaped by a World War II government policy that imposed wage controls when much of the nation's work force was off at war. Barred from wage increases, employers turned to health insurance benefits to attract workers, and job-related health benefits became a staple in the postwar years" (Drinkard, 10/20).

A new study by Families USA finds that "[b]ecause health insurance and employment go together, this year's devastating job losses have likely increased the ranks of the uninsured by four million people, including nearly 200,000 in Pennsylvania and New Jersey," The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, "said bills now being considered could improve the situation by expanding the Medicaid program to people with higher incomes, offering subsidies for some individuals who need to buy insurance on their own, and placing limits on out-of-pocket costs" (Burling, 10/21).

Meanwhile, NPR's "Talk of the Nation" interviews Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt, who "argues that health care should be looked at from an unemotional, economic perspective. Reinhardt explains the ... the process by which the cost of care is negotiated between hospitals and insurance companies" (Shapiro, 10/20).

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