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A health care system that actually makes people sicker

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The American health care system has become an actual impediment to public health. Americans are seeing that play out in real time as the pandemic progresses. Despite the heroic efforts of doctors, nurses and health care leaders, the staggering cost of care in this country, along with the number of people without health insurance and the lack of basic health literacy, have combined forces to make the coronavirus outbreak worse. Addressing those issues will be key to the nation's economic recovery as well as its future.

Start with affordability. It's no secret that Americans pay far more for health care than citizens of any other developed country. The U.S. depends on market forces and consumerism to control prices, but that hasn't worked too well when it comes to keeping the public healthy.

American health care is often compared to health care in Canada. Not every aspect of Canada's system would work in this country, but looking at America's northern neighbor and the prices Canadians pay for the same services offered on this side of the border helps focus attention on the unique unaffordability of U.S. health care.

In 1970, the United States and Canada both spent about 6 percent of their gross domestic product on health care. But after Canada made reforms that included universal coverage, the two countries' spending rapidly diverged. Today, nearly 20 percent America's gross domestic product goes to health care while........

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