In This Issue
Explore the October 1973 print edition below. Or to discover more writing from the pages of The Atlantic, browse the full archive.
The health care crisis is upon us. In response to soaring costs, a jumbled patchwork of insurance programs, and critical problems in delivering medical care, some kind of national health insurance has seemed in recent years to be an idea whose time has finally come in America. For those not protected by insurance—and often for those who are partially protected—illness means financial disaster. The quality of American medical care is at issue too. After twenty years of unprecedentedly high spending for research, our public health standards have fallen far behind some countries with fewer resources. We rank seventeenth in infant mortality, according to a United Nations study; thirtieth in life expectancy for males, behind Spain, Greece, and five Communist nations in Eastern Europe. And yet, writes reporter Godfrey Hodgson, for all our troubles, an opportunity to reform American health care has slipped by. How could this be? And where do we go from here?
In the film Head, four boys who have become idols of pre-teen girls around the world run on stage dressed in white suits, and play. or pretend to play. white guitars. Screaming fans surge up from the audience, surround them, and tear at their clothes. On the soundtrack, a manic, double-time chorus begins:
Nadezhda Mandelstam has told the story. In Strunino, after her husband’s arrest. working the night shift in a textile factory, she runs, sleepless and distraught, among the machines, chanting his forbidden poems to herself to preserve them. And so for twenty-five rears in Perm, in Moscow, in Voronezh. Leningrad, Ulianovsk, Samatikha . . .
“Before he died the Harper put a curse on the Kilrotherys. The Earl has a wall-eye. and the heir a slight lisp. I think it’s dying out. So are the Kilrotherys. So are we all.”