Health care delivery in the United States is an enormously complex enterprise, and its $1.6 trillion annual expenditures involve a host of competing interests. While arguably the nation offers among the most technologically advanced medical care in the world, the American system consistently under performs relative to its resources. Gaps in financing and service delivery pose major barriers to improving health, reducing disparities, achieving universal insurance coverage, enhancing quality, controlling costs, and meeting the needs of patients and families. Bringing together twenty-five of the nation’s leading experts in health care policy and public health, this book provides a much-needed perspective on how our health care system evolved, why we face the challenges that we do, and why reform is so difficult to achieve. The essays tackle tough issues including: socioeconomic disadvantage, tobacco, obesity, gun violence, insurance gaps, the rationing of services, the power of special interests, medical errors, and the nursing shortage.