The United States is the only industrialized nation that fails to assure universal access to basic health care. Nearly 39 million people — mostly adults and children in wage-earning families — lack health insurance. Nor does holding onto a job guarantee coverage. Seven of every 10 Americans depend on their employers for their insurance, but in today's tight economy employers are chipping away at benefits, compelling employees to pay more of the cost and even eliminating coverage entirely. Four health-care proposals are being considered in Congress, but all would provide only limited benefits. Critics of universal coverage say the nation can't afford to insure everyone. But health-care advocates say the nation's piecemeal approach to insurance doesn't keep Americans healthy — and costs more in the long run.