In fact, 19 million Americans from age 50 to 64 were uninsured or underinsured in 2008. Members of this group are more likely to arrive at a doctor's office with a number of chronic medical conditions, making it difficult or impossible for them to buy individual health insurance. As baby boomers reach age 65, the sheer number of people in need of coverage has the potential of overwhelming the Medicare system.

"This is a serious problem as the baby boomers age and the cost of health care skyrockets. If you drive an old car, you have to do repairs to keep that car moving. Just imagine having 75 million old cars coming into the Medicare system -- that is exactly what we are looking at in the next several years," says Tassey.

5. COBRA is very expensive, and a short-term health plan would be cheaper.

The federal COBRA law allows you to continue buying your former employer's group health plan if you are laid off. The catch is that the employer no longer has to contribute to the premiums. One alternative is buying a short-term health plan on your own.

If you are relatively healthy, a short-term plan could bridge the gap between other insurance plans, but if you have a pre-existing condition, or need maternity care or prescription drug coverage, you may not be able to find a short-term plan.

Also, short-term plans generally require you pay high deductibles before coverage begins. This deductible can vary from $250 (for very healthy policyholders) to well into the thousands. When you consider the cost of meeting the deductible before the plan pays for medical care, COBRA may be the better choice, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. In addition, a typical short-term policy lasts a maximum of six months, and the insurer is not obligated to renew your policy.

6. Large employers always offer health insurance to workers.

The Kaiser Family Foundation points out that one in five workers in firms with 500 or more employees is uninsured because many companies do not offer health insurance.

When workers are offered health insurance, they take it. According to the Employee Benefits Research Institute, less than 5% of those workers who are eligible for health benefits are uninsured.

7. Canada has a better health care system than the U.S.

The debate rages on. Canada's universal care system is fine, but there's a limit on what you can get. For example, if you happen to be a Canadian age 70 or older and need bypass surgery, the government won't pay for it.

"Universal health care isn't better; it's just different," Tassey says. "One of the largest hospitals in the U.S. is the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Many Canadians come over to Detroit for care -- not because it's better; it's because they can get it (in the U.S.). There is no rationing (in America) of any sort, so they can just write a check."

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Americans may complain about the high cost of health care in the U.S., but Tassey points out that people are rarely denied care for any reason.

"People in the U.S. demand care and demand it immediately. They also think we can cure anything," notes Tassey. "Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money to treat the number of fatal diseases that need a cure. We already have a semi-Canadian system for those who are 65 and older -- it's called Medicare, and it's going bankrupt."

This article was reported by Michelle Matlock for