NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - Americans are being told daily that health reform isn't just the right thing to do - it will also help save the economy.
"Health care reform is not part of the problem when it comes to our fiscal future, it is a fundamental part of the solution," President Obama said in a recent address.
The crux of the problem: The United States spends far more on health care than do other developed countries, but it often gets far less bang for its buck. Meanwhile, a large number of Americans either can't afford insurance or have insurance that doesn't adequately cover their medical costs.
The kicker, of course, is that rising costs are making the country's long-term fiscal picture very, very ugly.
For many, the Washington debate over the mind-bending details of different options obscures the issue of what's at stake. What is the threat to the economy if no action is taken? What happens if a health system overhaul succeeds ... and what are the economic perils if it fails?