The US health care crisis is of great concern to American neurologists. The United States has the worlds most expensive health care system yet one-sixth of Americans are uninsured. The cost and volume of procedures is expanding, while reimbursement for office visits is declining. Pharmaceutical costs, durable goods, and home health care are growing disproportionately to other services. Carriers spend more for their own administration and profit than on payments to physicians. This first article on the US health care system identifies problems and proposes solutions, many of which are championed by the American Academy of Neurology through its legislative and regulatory committees. © 2008 by AAN Enterprises, Inc.