10 Myths About Health Care Reform

The United States Can't Afford Health Care Reform Right Now
The federal government's portal logged several million visitors in its first week. But due to site problems, only a tiny fraction were able to enroll in a plan under the Affordable Care Act in the first several days the site was live. © MIKE SEGAR/Reuters/Corbis

It may seem like the wrong time to pursue health care reform; after all, the U.S. is more than $17 trillion in debt [source: U.S. Debt Clock]. The Obama administration maintains, though, that the cost of doing nothing is much higher than the cost of reform.

The U.S. spends more than $2 trillion on health care each year, which is about one-sixth of the economy [sources: Abelson, Leonhardt]. About $700 billion of that $2 trillion is spent on needless treatments that don't actually make the country's citizens any healthier [source: Tumulty]. In fact, the U.S. spends almost $3,000 more per person each year than any other industrialized country, yet it has higher infant mortality rates and lower life expectancies [source: Kane]. These costs are projected to grow more and more steeply each year, particularly in comparison to an average paycheck's growth. Health-care reform is designed to keep this growth in check, and though the initial 10-year cost of implementing the new legislation is $938 billion, reform will also reduce the deficit, reducing our country's health care costs by more than $200 billion over the first decade, and more than $1 trillion during its second decade [source: White House].

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