Although nothing could be less fashionable today than talk of comprehensive health care reform, the major problems of American health care have not gone away. Only a radical change in the way the U.S. finances health care--specifically, a single-payer system--will permit the achievement of universal coverage while keeping costs reasonably under control. Evidence from other countries, especially Canada, suggests the promise of this approach. In defending the single-payer approach, the author identifies several political and cultural factors that make it difficult for Americans to obtain a clear view of this option. Finally, the author argues that much discussion of rationing is vitiated by bracketing more systemic questions to which the issue of rationing is inextricably linked.