Program Note: Take a sneak peak at the AC360 Special "Extreme Challenges: President Obama" airing at 11 tonight ET. Below, a note from Dr. Sanjay Gupta:
Dr. Sanjay Gupta
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent
There is no doubt health care will be an extreme challenge, especially with the economy in the tank. But a bigger challenge may be explaining how the economy and health care reforms are truly linked. After all, we have the most expensive health system in the world, and Americans spend more on health care than housing or food. Here is a number to ponder: the United States spends nearly 500 billion more than peer nations on health care, and we don’t get nearly enough for it.
As a doctor and a parent, I can’t believe we have let ourselves get to this point. Too many people are uninsured, and even more have insurance that is simply inadequate. According to the American Cancer Society, 100,000 Americans will end up in bankruptcy because of a cancer diagnosis. Can you believe that? You are diagnosed with the most devastating medical illness of your lifetime only to follow it up with the most devastating financial illness you have suffered. Yes, the economy and health care are truly linked.
Last month, nearly half of all Americans surveyed reported skipping pills, postponing or canceling medical appointments and generally cutting back on medical care simply due to cost. Roughly, 22,000 people die each year due to lack of coverage. For sake of reference, the number of people who die annually from homicide in the country is around 17,000. It would seem being uninsured is a different sort of homicide.
The next administration will be faced with extreme challenges, and health care reform has to be front and center. As you may infer, you can’t really fix the economy without addressing health care. Still, this reporter is optimistic we will see some changes over the next few years. Heck, they might even deal with stem cells and obesity to boot.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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