The American Medical Association and its family of journals, including JAMA, are focusing this month on health care for the uninsured and underinsured in the American society. This complex socioeconomic problem has troubled our nation for many years. The number of underinsured and uninsured Americans continues to increase at an alarming rate. It has become a serious national concern and fosters continuing dialogue. Our national effort for resolution of this problem continues to be terpsichorean. While we are experiencing a soaring deficit and a deepening recession, the costly war in the Persian Gulf has expanded the roles of the unemployed and underinsured.
Surgeons trained in the United States during the last 50 years are intensely aware of existing practices in many of our hospitals that complicate health care for the poor. Significant parts of our surgical training have occurred in public hospitals where there are often long waiting lines, equipment