Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Rick Mayes


"The United States health care system is broken." This common refrain has been echoed by policymakers and politicians, Democrats and Republicans, and liberals and conservatives alike. They point to the unacceptably high number of uninsured Americans, out of control costs, and questionable quality as just some of the problems that afflict American health care. Before the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March, 2010, over 45 million Americans were without health insurance coverage.1 Health care spending currently accounts for 17% of this country‘s gross domestic product. In contrast, most industrialized European countries cover all of their citizens for less than 10% of their gross domestic product. To make matters worse, the United States spends more money on health care than most industrialized countries but does not necessarily offer better quality. The infant mortality rate is recognized as a reliable indicator for determining the quality of a nation‘s health care system. The United States‘ infant mortality rate stands at 6.8 deaths out of every 1,000 live births. Japan claims only 2.8 infant deaths out of every 1,000 live births.2 The United States also lags behind in preventable deaths. There are 110 preventable deaths per 100,000 Americans in the United States as compared to 71 preventable deaths per 100,000 Japanese.3 These statistics are part of a long litany of numbers and horror stories that have led lawmakers to call the United States health care a broken system.