Bitter medicine - Page 5

Health care reform groups fear the cure may be worse than the disease
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Illustration by Danny Hellman

To overcome that kind of money and influence, advocates say it was crucial to wield a credible single-payer option — a sort of death penalty for the insurance industry — for as long as possible.

"Having single-payer discussions on the table really informs the debate over the public option," Flanagan said. "But by removing single-payer, it made the public option the left flank."

Flanagan, like many, is worried about how a 900-page bill will turn out. "There are a thousands ways to get it wrong," he said. "An easy way to get it right would be to just do a single-payer system." ------------

HEALTH CARE BY THE NUMBERS

Uninsured Americans: 47 million

Uninsured Californians: More than 6.7 million (about one in six)

African Americans without health insurance in California: 19 percent

Latinos without health insurance in California: 31 percent

Whites without health insurance in California: 12 percent

San Franciscans without health insurance: 15.3 percent

Rise in health-insurance premiums from 2000 to 2007 in California: 96 percent

Projected rise in health care costs per family without reform: $1,800 per year

Percentage of bankruptcies attributed to an individual's inability to pay medical bills: 62 percent

Percentage of Americans who skip doctor visits because of the cost: 25 percent

U.S. rank of 19 industrialized nations on preventable deaths due to treatable conditions: 19

Jobs that would be created by extending Medicare to all Americans: 2.6 million

Annual U.S. spending on billing and insurance-related administrative costs for health care: $400 billion

Sources: Health Care for America Now, American Journal of Medicine, Physicians for a National Health Program

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