The American community soon will complete its slow march toward universal health insurance, which began before World War I with debates about "compulsory insurance" for workers. Back in 1935, when the United States annually spent under $30 per person on health care, the overall U.S. health-care budget accounted for only 4.1 % of the Gross National Product (GNP). As of 1940, hospital insurance still covered less than 10% of the U.S. population. Today, the health-care backdrop looks markedly different. Approximately 85% of our nation's citizens now have some form of third-party assistance (public or private) to help pay for medical goods and services. National per capita spending on health care approaches $3100 per year; the 1992 health-care budget likely will exceed $800 billion, approximating 13% of the GNP.

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