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AMERICAN MOSAIC - October 17, 2003: History of baseball in America / Music from Gloria Estefan / The health care system in the United States. - 2003-10-16



Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC -- a VOA Special English program about music and American life. And we answer your questions.


This is Doug Johnson. This week – music from the newest album by Gloria Estefan. And a listener wants to know about health care in the United States.

But first – we look at the history of one of the most important sports events in the country.

World Series


Saturday is the first game of the World Series for the championship in North American baseball. As Faith Lapidus reports, perhaps no other sport is rooted as deeply in American life.


No other sport has created as many popular traditions as baseball has. There are plenty of poems, songs, books and films.

Americans of all ages play baseball. Thousands of teams compete at all levels. There are school teams, company teams and teams supported by religious groups. Baseball is part of American English. Here is just one example: When Americans fail at something, they might say they "struck out."

The first group of professional baseball teams formed in the United States in eighteen-seventy-six. The National League had eight teams then. Today it has sixteen. The other major league today is the American League. It formed in nineteen-oh-one.

The American League tried to get National League players to change teams. The American League teams were also competing with the National League for fans.

One-hundred years ago, in nineteen-three, officials from the two leagues met to try to ease the situation. They agreed to a series of games between two of their teams. The team that won the most games in the series would be declared the best team in the land. That is still considered the purpose of the games known as the World Series.

The first World Series brought together the American League team from Boston and the National League team from Pittsburgh. The American League team won. Baseball historians say that victory confirmed the American League as a real force in professional baseball. They also say the World Series made the sport into America’s game. And, for millions of Americans, that tradition continues today.

Health Care


Our VOA listener question this week comes from Guanzhou, China. Mike Li asks about the medical care system in the United States.

Most Americans buy health insurance from private companies through their employers. Workers and employers usually share the cost.

Insurance companies pay some or all the costs when a person visits a doctor or hospital. But they may not pay for some kinds of treatments or services, or there are limits. Also, many plans pay for some kinds of examinations only when a person is sick.

One kind of health insurance is provided by a health maintenance organization, or H-M-O. Groups of doctors work for an H-M-O. Individuals and families pay each month to belong. Their employers usually also pay part of the cost.

Members can see the different doctors within their H-M-O at little or no additional cost. Millions of people belong to H-M-0's. But others want more freedom to choose their own doctors and hospitals. Also, some people say an H-M-O may put too much pressure on doctors to control costs.

About forty-three-million Americans, or fifteen percent, have no health insurance at all. Many cannot pay for insurance, but have too much money to receive free health care for the poor. Some have no job, or work for a company that does not provide insurance. Still others are sick and cannot get insurance to pay for their treatment.

Two federal programs pay medical costs for some Americans. Medicare pays for many older and disabled people. Medicaid pays for poor people.

Some want a system that pays for all people, like other major industrial nations have. Eight-thousand doctors support a proposal for a national system of health insurance. The proposal appeared in August in the Journal of the American Medical Association. That is the nation's largest doctors group. But the group itself says a single-payer system would limit care and create other problems.

Health costs continue to increase. The government has attempted reforms in the past. But it is a huge job. The Bush administration is proposing to reduce drug costs for older Americans. The idea is to offer a limited drug payment system through Medicare. The Democratic presidential candidates also have health care proposals.

Gloria Estafan’s New Album


Gloria Estefan has recorded more than twenty albums and sold more than seventy million copies. Jim Tedder tells us about the newest release by the forty-six-year-old singer.


Gloria Estafan’s new album is called “Unwrapped.” The first hit song from the album is called “Wrapped.”


Gloria Estefan was a child when her family had to flee Cuba after Fidel Castro seized power in nineteen-fifty-nine. They moved to Miami, Florida. She had her first big hits in the middle of the nineteen-eighties with the group Miami Sound Machine. Then, in nineteen-ninety, a truck hit their bus. She broke her back. Her recovery took months.

Gloria Estefan says music has helped her through hard times. Here is another song from her new album. It is called “I Will Always Need Your Love.”


Gloria Estefan's popularity has helped other Latin singers find success in the American music industry. Four of the songs on "Unwrapped" are in Spanish. We leave you with "Te Amare," or "I will love you."



This is Doug Johnson. Our program was written by Chi Un Lee and Nancy Steinbach. Our producer was Paul Thompson. And our engineer was Vosco Volaric.

I hope you enjoyed AMERICAN MOSAIC. Join us again next week for VOA’s radio magazine in Special English.