Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care

Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care

4.1 84
by T. R. Reid

ISBN-10: 1594202346

ISBN-13: 2901594202345

Pub. Date: 08/20/2009

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Bestselling author T. R. Reid guides a whirlwind tour of successful health care systems worldwide, revealing possible paths toward U.S. reform.

In The Healing of America, New York Times bestselling author T. R. Reid shows how all the other industrialized democracies have achieved something the United States can?t seem to do: provide health care…  See more details below


Bestselling author T. R. Reid guides a whirlwind tour of successful health care systems worldwide, revealing possible paths toward U.S. reform.

In The Healing of America, New York Times bestselling author T. R. Reid shows how all the other industrialized democracies have achieved something the United States can?t seem to do: provide health care for everybody at a reasonable cost.

In his global quest to find a possible prescription, Reid visits wealthy, free market, industrialized democracies like our own?including France, Germany, Japan, the U.K., and Canada?where he finds inspiration in example. Reid shares evidence from doctors, government officials, health care experts, and patients the world over, finding that foreign health care systems give everybody quality care at an affordable cost. And that dreaded monster ?socialized medicine? turns out to be a myth. Many developed countries provide universal coverage with private doctors, private hospitals, and private insurance.

In addition to long-established systems, Reid also studies countries that have carried out major health care reform. The first question facing these countries?and the United States, for that matter?is an ethical issue: Is health care a human right? Most countries have already answered with a resolute yes, leaving the United States in the murky moral backwater with nations we typically think of as far less just than our own.

The Healing of America lays bare the moral question at the heart of our troubled system, dissecting the misleading rhetoric surrounding the health care debate. Reid sees problems elsewhere, too: He finds poorly paid doctors in Japan, endless lines in Canada, mistreated patients in Britain, spartan facilities in France. Still, all the other rich countries operate at a lower cost, produce better health statistics, and cover everybody. In the end, The Healing of America is a good news book: It finds models around the world that Americans can borrow to guarantee health care for everybody who needs it.

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Penguin Publishing Group
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Table of Contents

Prologue: A Moral Question 1

1 A Quest For Two Cures 5

2 Different Models, Common Principles 16

3 The Paradox 28

4 France: The Vital Card 46

5 Germany: "Applied Christianity" 66

6 Japan: Bismarck on Rice 82

7 The UK: Universal Coverage, No Bills 104

8 Canada: "Sorry to Keep you Waiting" 126

9 Out of Pocket 143

10 Too Big to Change? 163

11 An Apple a Day 186

12 The First Question 205

13 Major Surgery 226

An Afterword: "Obamacare" Explained 244

Appendix: The Best Health Care System in the World 252

A Note of Thanks 269

Notes 273

Index 281

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The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 84 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Timely and well-written, this tour of the major health care systems of the industrialized world provides an informed, open-minded, and realistic backdrop to the current health-care "debate". Mr. Reid takes his bad shoulder around the world and sees doctors in the UK, France, Japan, India, and Canada - describing along the way the various public & private systems those countries use to provide health care. Mr. Reid does not explicitly suggest how the US should change our system, but it's hard to miss his point that the US is alone among industrialized nations in not providing universal health care - and - the fact that everyone is covered in those nations means that the per-capita cost of health care is far lower than in the US. A fine antidote to the town-hall craziness that has dominated the news recently and well worth reading.
nyrich More than 1 year ago
Having grown up in the UK and lived in the US for 20 years I have experienced both sides of the current health debate. I began to wonder if my memory of the British system was somehow too rose-colored or my disgust at the morality of the US system just an overreaction. This book underlines that neither is the case; it really should be a sobering read for all those apologists for the US system. Reid is no ideologue but simply sets out to compare health systems throughout the world. He expounds on the history and development of the various systems - there are really only 4 basic models - in various countries. His discussion is detailed and on the whole well organized, although there is some repetition at times. I should warn you, however, that this can make ugly reading for those of us in the USA.
TurtleRB More than 1 year ago
while she was away. It took me until she returned months later until guilt forced me to open it. Then, of course, I wondered why I had waited so long. Mr. Reid sets out to compare public health care schemes in France, Germany, England, Canada, and Japan. At the beginning, he had been to his physician in the U.S., and been advised to have his ailing shoulder replaced. This gave him a good diagnosis to bring up with each foreign doctor he consulted along his route, with some surprising suggestions for repair of the shoulder, all of which suggested replacement only as a last resort. In the end, Mr. Reid combs through what he has learned in order to try to establish the best system he could devise by compiling the best aspects of each of the systems he had thouroughly investigated.
murfca More than 1 year ago
This book is essential reading for anyone interested the health carer debate in the US. It is written for the lay person and very informative. I now have a good idea about what other countries are doing and how parts of these plans can help us.
MKH More than 1 year ago
This book can be a real eye opener for anyone following the health care debate. Americans have been indoctrinated to believe that no other country can do health care like the U. S. Anyone who reads this will wonder why American media isn't telling us more about how health care is conducted in the other industrialized nations of the world. It's not the boogey man we are led to believe it is! Almost all of them do it better for a lot less cost.
DudesDad3 More than 1 year ago
Reid is clearly an advocate of health care reform, criticizing our "system" on several grounds, including the fact that it does not provide universal coverage, that health care takes up a ridiculous 17% of our GDP, that it is burdened by high administrative costs. Despite our constantly beating our chests about providing "the best health care in the world", millions of Americans do not have access to that care because they earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid, earn too little to afford health insurance, or are too young to be eligible for Medicare (which is also available to those who qualify for Social Security Disability). To make matters worse, we consistently rank behind many many other countries on such measures as life expectancy and infant mortality. With regard to the latter, we rank behind such countries as Cuba and Slovenia. Reid believes first and foremost that providing health care coverage to all citizens is a moral imperative. He notes repeatedly that the United States is the only industrialized, developed democracy that does not provide such coverage. But he argues compellingly that reform is also an economic imperative. He identifies four basic models which describe how health care is provided in other countries, then describes those models in detail by providing an in-depth description of how different countries have implemented those different models, including two countries, Taiwan and Switzerland, which adopted major reforms of their health care systems at the same time that our legislators were rejecting Clinton's proposal in the 1990's, a proposal that never even made it to a vote in Congress. Reid does not claim that that the other countries whose systems he describes are health care utopias. He is quick to detail the criticisms and problems that exist in the countries whose systems he describes. But what clearly emerges from his book is the fact that the other industrialized democracies all provide quality health care at affordable costs and with less burden on their economic systems than our current system provides. This is a must read for anyone interested in this debate, despite the passage of the recent bill, which, hopefully, represents just the beginning of significant health care reform in the United States.
DarrenVA More than 1 year ago
This is a great book which really details the problems the US healthcare system is facing now and will continue to face in the future. The author goes to many countries and finds out what works and what doesn't. Its a sobering read for anyone living in the US. You will wonder why we cant get a more efficient system. The gist though is this. Our medical technology and care is A+. Our system for delivering it and its cost efficiency, and "fairness" is a D. I would hope every member of Congress would read this book, but of course I'd be surprised if even one of them has read it. They just are not that smart! So sad.
emanon75 More than 1 year ago
Here"s a snapshot of other people in "socialist" nations - Germany, France, England, Japan, Canada - are getting for their health care dollar and what we aren't. (How about $15 for an ordinary office visit-consultation in Japan?) Why they do it is simple: these countries have recognized that universal health care is a moral and ethical issue. How they do it is what Mr. Reid explains in detail. Read it, weep and get angry at our mindless approach.
jmepitt More than 1 year ago
The author does an excellent job in analyzing some of the glaring faults in U.S. healthcare by examining how European and other countries handle these same issues. What the author painstakingly brings to the attention of the reader is that many solutions for the predicaments facing U.S. healthcare have already been successfully utilized by other nations. Why then have we not adopted any of these policies? The author argues that the political atmosphere of the U.S., namely the lobbyists and special interest groups representing those who benefit from the status quo have effectively quelled any efforts for legitimate healthcare reform. The author makes many suggestions to improve both the financial and moral integrity of the U.S. healthcare and then proceeds to back them up with comparative data collected during his worldwide search for the cure to his own ailments.
ChessieCat More than 1 year ago
T.R. Reid, the author, describes the 4 major patterns of health care found around the world based on his research and his personal experiences with the health care systems in many other countries outside America. He tells us that citizens in all the major industrialized countries are critical of their own systems but there is probably not one person who would exchange their system of health care for America's "system." He carefully describes his own experiences with and the structure of health care systems in France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and Canada as well as the "out of pocket" approach in India, Cuba and China. While he does not seek to replace the American "system" with any one of these as superior approaches, he does try to encourage America to choose the best elements of each countries approach when reforming the American health care system. Every other Industrialized Nation has better health care outcomes for dramatically less cost than we do in America and the author provides numerous data to support such an argument. Many other countries make available private insurance plans but they all seem to be non-profit plans where the sole focus is on the patient and not on the stock holders. All Industrialized Nations, with successful health plans, make health plan coverage mandatory for everyone, and in addition where health insurance companies exist they are clearly regulated as are the providers with respect to allowable charges. For beginners this seems to be the only way to get control of health care costs. France, in particular, has a Vital Card that is provided to every citizen. Reid describes how the card works with an embedded chip that is updated with all a patients medical history, blood types, allergies, etc. The Doctor's offices in France have no filing cabinets and the card is simply inserted into a lap top computer to reveal, for the doctor, an entire medical history. When the doctor is done with his diagnosis and recommended treatment, he/she presses the enter key and the bill for services is immediately forwarded to the insurance company which, by gov't regulation, must pay the bill within a very brief window or be penalized. This book is a must read by anyone who is involved in the present health care debate or even by people who just want to understand how other governments have developed health care systems that really work giving access to all providing efficient and excellent care to their people. The author debunks many of the myths circulating around in America regarding health care reform in an easily understood yet concise way with much supporting material based on his own experience and research. T.R. Reid has done an incredible job organizing his material and presenting it in a way that is readily understandable and makes for easy understanding which holds the interest of any reader. I cannot help but wonder why this book was not used by our congress in developing a reform package that could have been much simpler for all of us to understand.
10holso More than 1 year ago
With the publishing of this book T.R. Reid has provided an invaluable asset for anyone who wishes to become more informed on America's health care system and would like to learn how it can be fixed. By undertaking a mission to find a cure for his ailing shoulder, and more importantly, health care in America, Reid travels across the world to find out what practices work in other developed nations as well as which ones don't. From these experiences, he develops a concise and clear database of information that allows the readers to develop their own opinion of the subject. Without doubt this is one of the most informational and interesting books I have read.
CSSCS More than 1 year ago
Of course, the healthcare systems in the countries visited by Mr. Reid are much more complex than illustrated in this book; his anecdotes make this overview both interesting and readable.
Anatole_France More than 1 year ago
I am astonished that there are only twelve reviews before mine, given that health care reform is at the forefront of our national conversation, and that T.R. Reid's careful presentation dispels so many half-truths and outright lies. As a retired physician, this book fascinated me. Over the 50 years I spent as a doctor, I worked under socialized medicine (the VA, the Indian Health Service and the National Institutes of Health), in our private and academic sectors, in a Medicare-only practice, and travelled and observed in a Third World country (Paraguay). T.R. Reid paints a clear picture. We do *not* have the best system in the world. Some things are good about it, and yes, sheiks and kings come to the U.S. for health care; but what good is that if 47 million of our own citizens cannot afford health care in their own country? My wife and I were in Washington in October to lobby for health care reform. We met with our Congressman's senior staff member. She'd not heard of Reid's book, so in follow-up we sent her a copy. It didn't change our Congressman's vote, but if he reads it he'll be better informed. How is it possible that the average Japanese can afford to visit his doctor 13 times in a year, or how is it that a CT or an MRI costs on-tenth there as it would in the U.S.? How can hundreds of private insurers in Switzerland stay in business, challenged by a public, government-run plan? How is it that Germans have had health care since the Emperor set up their system 100 years ago, while so many Americans go without today? Why is it that primary care doctors do better in England than they do here in the U.S? Why is it that Canadians believe in fairness so much more than we U.S. citizens? Is it because we are morally deficient? (my question). The deficiencies in the healthcare systems in other wealthy, democratic societies are correctable. Just think of what they could do with what we spend today ... about twice what they spend, and we get less for it! Reid's observations make me wonder ... Does our faith in unconstrained, unregulated free-market capitalism trump our concern for our fellow human beings? Perhaps his most timely message is that none of the countries he surveyed is completely satisfied with its solution to its health care needs. In France, despite its incredibly successful system, there are strikes and complaints. In Canada there are lines, although emergencies are seen promptly. I suspect that even if the Senate bill goes forward, we'll be tinkering with health care legislation for generations. How is it that we can barely muster enough votes to debate these and related issues in Congress, despite the fact that each and every one of us is in jeopardy of losing our right to health care? We are only a single potentially lethal diagnosis away from denial of coverage. The Sword of Damocles is wielded by United Healthcare. How is it that nearly two thirds of bankruptcies are the result of illness and high cost of health care? Our system is broken and unsustainable. The "Obama Plan" isn't 2,000 pages long. It's 3 words long: quality, accessible and affordable. We'll be debating it formally in Congress over the next six weeks. The more we can learn from the successes and failures of other countries' answers, the better our solutions will be. The "Healing of America" is the right book at the right time.
SMFillerup More than 1 year ago
T.R. Reid, true to his training as a reporter, provides an informative analysis of several of the world's most successful healthcare systems set against the search for solutions to a personal health problem (I'll let you read the details for yourself). Reid's personal encounters with the doctors and healthcare leaders of several nations provide a natural backdrop for his evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of several foreign healthcare systems. The information on these systems is accurate and well documented. The search for the ideal healthcare system naturally proves unsuccessful, but the journey is informative. The reader cannot escape the comparisons to the U.S. healthcare system, which, of course, invite a certain degree of thought concerning U.S. efforts at healthcare reform. As a researcher and writer on the subject of foreign healthcare systems for TheCenter for Health Care Policy Research and Analysis, I appreciate the first-hand point of view in this book, and I agree with all but a couple of Mr. Reid's conclusions. Mr. Reid suggests that non-profit status for private insurance companies in many foreign nations is the reason for their success at cost containment. For another point of view on this, and other issues, I suggest two other books: "Handbook for Healthcare Reform: Foundation and Framework," and "Chronic Crisis." Both are available through Barnes and Noble, or through Acacia Publishing, Phoenix, AZ.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The debate surrounding health care reform in the US is one of the most confusing yet compelling issues affecting us all as citizens of the USA. T.R.Reid has outlined one of the most informative ways of helping me understand both our healthcare system, and the systems of other nations. After reading this book I am convinced we can make the necessary changes in the way we do business in this country around taking care of our citizens. This book should be mandatory for all high school students taking Health 101!!!!
phreaddy More than 1 year ago
Describes how other first world countries have approached health care delivery, their strengths and weaknesses. There is no perfect delivery system but all others are far cheaper, provide coverage for everyone and none ration critical care. If only our Congressional gurus would read this book it would open their eyes to the distortions and out right lies proffered by the special interests. On the other hand, maybe not.
Michael_Lovallo More than 1 year ago
T.R. Reid's book, The Healing Of America is a book about how other industrialized countries provide health care for ALL their people at a lower cost and with better results than the United States. His review of other countries health systems is based on first hand experience while living with his family in Japan and Britain and other world travels. He describes the different "models" in each country and explains in plain language, how each country provides health care, the results, costs, advantages and pitfalls. And, he does this in a simple, clear and entertaining way. As someone who lost his job this year, I have been thrust into the nightmare of trying to provide myself and family with health care insurance. Something is seriously wrong when in the United States of America, you lose your job, and need the help the most, you are burdened with astronomical health insurance cost. Why is it that my health insurance cost is higher than my mortgage? Everyone in America who wants to really understand why our health care system needs reform should read this book. Highly recommended!
MGrantM More than 1 year ago
Reid does an excellent job of explaining what other industrialized countries have achieved in healthcare at much lower costs that we currently spend in the US. This should be required reading for all of our senators and representatives in Washington.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be very informative, interesting, and relative. The author did a very nice objective and comparative evaluation of various Helathcare plans in other nations while combining it with personal experiences and observations. I thought it was concise enough to be easy to read yet detailed enough to provide a thorough understanding of the topic.
JimL More than 1 year ago
Reid has compiled and detailed health care delivery around the world. He explores how other countries have organized their delivery and insurance systems hoping to find the best of each one so that policy makers in America can benefit from cross-fertilization. I can only hope the guys and gals on capital hill will take the time to read this. OK, maybe their health care staffers will read this and relay the salient points. An easy and compelling read.
nadrad More than 1 year ago
Excellent book.  Must read if you want to understand what is wrong with health care in the US.
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