The health care industry is devoted to providing medical care to individuals. It is one of the world's largest and fastest growing industries and professions in the world, consuming over 10 percent of gross domestic product of most developed nations.
Health care includes the delivery of medical services by specialist providers, such as midwives, doctors, nurses, home health aides, vaccination technicians and physician's assistants. Some health care services may include preventive care, vaccination, screening, diagnosis, prescribing and administration of medicine, surgery, observation, and attendance at childbirth.
Health care is provided by a wide variety of entities; including non-profit hospitals, for-profit hospitals, outpatient clinics, and other health care professionals who practice for profit either individually or in a group.
Health care is usually covered by various forms of health insurance. Otherwise, individuals are responsible for paying for their health care themselves. This is unlike nations such as Canada and the United Kingdom, where health insurance is provided by fully state-funded systems. This has caused much controversy, due to the fact that many citizens are un-insured for one or several reasons and cannot afford to pay for their health care. Most un-insured citizens are working-class between the ages of 2 and 65, whose employers do not provide health insurance, while at the same time earning too much to qualify for state or local insurance programs, but also do not earn enough to cover the cost of an individual health insurance plan.
Another major issue pertaining to health care is prescription drug coverage. Since the 1990s the price of prescription drugs have been continuously soaring. Generic drug alternatives for many popular prescription drugs are available, which save the consumer a significant amount of money; but unfortunately it often takes several years before a generic drug can be legally manufactured, due to patent laws. Currently a proposition exists to begin importing drugs from Canada as a measure to help reduce the cost of prescription drugs, but this measure is still currently being disputed.