Editorials

America’s healthcare dilemma

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6132 (Published 15 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6132
  1. John E McDonough, professor of practice,
  2. John J Park, Kennedy scholar
  1. Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA
  1. Correspondence to: J J Park john.park{at}mail.harvard.edu

The insurance of at least 22 million Americans hangs in the balance

The election of Donald Trump as 45th president of the United States has triggered concerns in many globally important areas of public policy, including climate change. But for Americans, one of the most unsettling challenges is the future of domestic healthcare policy and the fate of the 2010 health reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

For 45 years, the US healthcare system has been accurately characterized as the most expensive among nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as mediocre regarding quality and effectiveness, as inadequate in that it left nearly 50 million Americans uninsured, and as substandard in core outcomes such as infant mortality and life expectancy. In short, the only category at which Americans seemed to excel was in spending the most money.1

Between 2005 and 2008, many sectors in American society became vocal in calling for comprehensive healthcare reform to address failings in access, quality, cost, and outcomes. Between January 2009 and March 2010, new President Barack Obama worked with hefty Democratic majorities in the US Senate and House of Representatives to fashion comprehensive reform to tackle …

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