In the late 15th century, John Morton, the Archbishop of Canterbury, served as a tax collector in England. He posited that a man who lives a modest lifestyle can save his money and thus can afford to pay taxes. If the man lives a lavish lifestyle, Morton said, he must be rich and thus can afford to pay taxes. This concept - two different lines of reasoning drawing the same conclusion - became known as "Morton's fork," which some 500 years later, could be applied to the American health care system.

In a little over a decade, the way health insurance in the United States is provided and paid for has undergone a seismic shift. Amid surging health care costs, employers in the early 2000s began to phase out more comprehensive (and costlier) HMO and PPO options. In their place rose consumer-driven or high-deductible health plans, which lower employer costs by asking employees to shoulder a greater financial burden through meeting higher deductibles - sometimes upwards of $5,000 per family - before insurance began covering costs at 100%.

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