Barack Obama struck a sober tone as he delivered his inaugural speech in front of two million people in Washington on Tuesday, acknowledging the scale of the challenge that he now faces.
Here US voters discuss some of the major issues that matter to them personally, and that the new president will have to tackle.
Church volunteer | Democrat
I believe that a growing number of people are at risk of losing their health insurance during this recession
"As someone on government-provided health insurance, I believe that state-backed healthcare can work in principle.
Lives: West Covina, California
Occupation: Church volunteer
Political orientation: Democrat
Last election voted:
In 10 words or fewer: Diplomatic, devout, cheerful, devourer of information, striving to be grateful
It's important to make changes now. Since health insurance in America is usually tied to employment, I believe that a growing number of people are at risk of losing their health insurance during this recession.
I think Obama's plan to reduce insurance costs and offer a new affordable plan for those who do not have insurance will make a big difference.
My brother has no health insurance. He is young and relatively healthy and so didn't used to worry about it. But last October he had to have an operation for a detached retina.
He tried to make appointments with several ophthalmologists but no-one would accept him because of his lack of insurance. He ended up in the emergency room of the county hospital, which has to accept all-comers. His operation was a success. The support services in the hospital left something to be desired but at least he didn't have to pay for it.
I'm on Medi-Cal, which is the Californian version of US-wide system Medicaid. The state pays back health professionals for my treatment. But I have to call at least five or six specialist physicians before I get in touch with one who accepts Medi-Cal. This is because the state offers a low reimbursement rate for doctors.
I think it will be difficult for Obama to make changes although the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate may make it a bit easier. But I do worry about what may happen if the Republicans get back into Congress.
In one word I hope America in four years' time will be 'fairer'. I hope the US will be more united, more just, more happy, more at peace with itself and with the world."
Do you agree with Katheryn Gallant? You can add your comments and questions on Katheryn's views using the form below:
I agree with Ms Gallant in principle, but I think it is misleading if not completely false to say that health insurance is tied to employment. Many hard-working Americans are left out of the loop. I would love to work full time, but I was hired for just under 40 hours a week so that the company would not have to pay for my insurance. I am therefore left not only without insurance, but also with a lower income - too low to afford buying it myself. As a recent graduate, it's hard enough finding a job in the current economic climate. On top of that, I have to worry constantly about my health too. For some extremists to tell me that I somehow do not deserve basic healthcare is obscene and offensive. Healthcare is not a handout--it should be a basic right.
Maya, New York, NY
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