Quietly, while the drought and immigration grab the headlines, and while commentators decry health care reform’s rocky start, California has done something remarkable. It has cut the number of residents without heath insurance in half since last summer, from 22 percent to 11 percent of the population. And, despite the myriad problems with the system, the percentage of uninsured Americans has dropped from 18 to 13.4 percent in the same time. It would have dropped even more if all the states were taking advantage of the Affordable Care Act’s health exchange programs. Even better, health care analysts are nearly unanimous in expecting the trend to continue, especially after the employer mandate kicks in. The United States still has a huge amount of work to do if it wants to catch up to other countries on health care. The Commonwealth Fund reported last month that the U.S. ranked last among 11 major, industrialized countries in 2011 on measures of health system quality, efficiency, access to care, equity and healthy lives according to a recent Op-Ed piece in the San Jose Mercury News.
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