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October 23, 1996

Whatever Happened to the Health Insurance Crisis in the United States?Voices From a National Survey

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Mass (Drs Donelan and Blendon); National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Ill (Drs Hill and Frankel); Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif (Drs Hoffman, Rowland, and Altman); and Department of Statistics, Baruch College, City University of New York, New York, NY (Dr Frankel).

JAMA. 1996;276(16):1346-1350. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540160068038

FOUR YEARS AGO, in the presidential campaign, in major medical journals and medical associations, in the media, and in civic groups, our nation was engaged in a great debate about the best way to provide health insurance coverage to all Americans. By contrast, these debates have been conspicuous by their absence in this election year.

The health system reform debate was marked by some controversy about whether there was a health insurance crisis at all.1 On one side were those who said that most of the uninsured could get care when they needed it, a view that was expressed in a commentary in the Wall Street Journal in 1994 that noted that "these [uninsured] citizens are not denied health care" and only 1 in 5 uninsured (about 3% of the population) cannot obtain affordable insurance.2 On the other side were those who claimed that many of the uninsured