T.R. Reid's The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care shows how off-base many of the criticisms of health-insurance reform were -- other countries really do manage to provide universal access, at lower cost and in a timely fashion, while maintaining high quality care.
So how is the flawed status quo maintained?
This look at the way lobbying really works offers a partial answer:
The key mistake most people make when they look at Washington—and the key misconception that characters like Abramoff would lead you to—is seeing Washington as a cash economy. It’s a gift economy...
...It is a perfect mixture of ideological comradeship, financial perks, and personal affinity. But it is the sense of comradeship and affinity that makes the whole thing work.
Health care is the biggest spender, dropping almost $5 billion into the game since 1998; that's just slightly more than the industry group that includes insurance companies.