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Frontline: Sick Around the World

27 customer reviews

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Frontline: Sick Around the World + FRONTLINE: Sick Around America + Sicko (Special Edition)
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Editorial Reviews

Four in five Americans say the healthcare system needs fundamental change. Can the U.S. learn anything from the rest of the world about how to run a healthcare system, or are these nations so culturally different that their solutions would not be acceptable? FRONTLINE correspondent T.R. Reid examines the healthcare systems of other advanced capitalist democracies to see what ideas might help the U.S. reform its broken healthcare system.


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Product Details

  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: June 10, 2008
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001A40ZDC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #40,051 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A. Davis on December 23, 2008
I saw this documentary after watching Michael Moore's "Sicko", and between the two, I liked "Sick Around the World" better. "Sicko" has its strong points, but it may be perceived as too politicized (which it is, and it's okay). Another reviewer complained that "Sick Around the World" did not cover other countries, such as Brazil, South Africa, and India, but I do not quite understand this complaint. The point of the documentary is to compare the health care systems in industrial countries, which are similar to the U.S., and the choice of selected countries is excellent. The narration was fine; I mean, it's not a Disney movie, right? I like that the narrator addressed shortcomings of universal health care in other countries. The stories of Switzerland and Taiwan, which switched to the universal health care very recently, are quite fascinating. If you have never been lived abroad and are interested in how other industrial countries treat their sick, you may find "Sick Around the World" eye opening.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert Schwartz on June 23, 2009
The best overview of real world health care I've seen, this eye-opening survey covers the pros and cons of systems in 5 countries. (In contrast, Frontline's more recent documentary, Sick Around America, was a disappointment.)

We and our leaders could learn a lot from the experience of Switzerland, Germany, and Taiwan, and maybe what to avoid from Britain and Japan. Canada is not mentioned, but these other countries present a rich range of hybrid choices that are more similar to our situation in the U.S.

For example, the staunchly capitalist Swiss barely passed national healthcare reform in 1994, but now their citizens are very satisfied. Switzerland spends more per person on healthcare than any country except ours, but we spend 50% more than they do -- $700 billion per year of excess! Yet our health and longevity are worse, and we have a million families per year declaring bankruptcy due to medical bills.

We can do so much better, and this video helps show how by detailing what works and doesn't in the real-life systems of other similar countries. I'm looking forward to Reid's follow-up book The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care due out in August 2009. In the meantime, you can view this documentary on the PBS Frontline site, which also has many useful links. If you have an hour, do it now!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Edwin C. Pauzer VINE VOICE on August 24, 2009
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Frontline's "Sickness Around the World," is about five universal healthcare systems in the world that provide more comprehensive care, at less cost than one can expect in the United States. T. R. Reid travels to Great Britain, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, and Switzerland.

Mr. Reid seems clearly on the side of universal health care, but let's the viewers know the limitations of each system in each country he visited, and none of those limitations are the same as the nonsense being propagated on the blogs where disinformation abounds.

In Britain, where doctors are government employees, healthcare comes from tax revenue, but there is no waiting for critical care, and waiting time has been reduced to two to six weeks for non-life-threatening procedures. Doctors are actually paid more for keeping patients alive longer. Each hospital competes for patients by competing with superior care.

Japan has the highest life expectancy in the world, and the lowest infant mortality rate with healthcare at a cost of eight percent of their GDP. Their universal health care system boasts a higher percentage of privately owned hospitals than can be found in the U.S. Because they can afford to, the Japanese will visit their doctors three times more often than Americans, and undergo twice as many scans that will cost them $80.00 instead of hundreds to thousands. Families pay the equivalent of $750 a month, a cost that is shared by their employer.

Ninety percent of Germans take part in their universal health care system where 240 insurance carriers compete for each patient's business. Germans making $60,000 a year will share a monthly cost of $240 a month, but will be able to see a doctor the same day, and a specialist in a week or two.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By John Bonavia VINE VOICE on March 4, 2009
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This excellent documentary is required viewing if you have ever, even for a moment, thought that there just might be a better way to provide healthcare than the American profit-based system.

Unlike Michael Moore's "Sicko," it does not spend much time criticizing the American system, except indirectly. What is so valuable is that it gives a clear description of the systems of several other leading developed nations: how they operate, what the citizens think of them, what are their stresses and problems. And those who think the only alternative to ours is a vast government bureaucracy need to think again. In many systems insurance companies still play a big role, and in many, private hospitals and medical practices flourish. There is no one-size-fits-all.

But what they all share is a set of core characteristics:

- EVERYONE is covered.
- No-one ever faces huge out-of-pocket costs.
- Paperwork and administration, and the associated wasted cost, are a tiny fraction of what they are in the US.
- The quality of care is just fine, contrary to the US establishment's propaganda.
- And when the narrator, T.R.Reid, asks a leading player in each country's system if anyone can ever go bankrupt from medical bills, the idea is clearly quite outlandish to them (though I think many of them have probably seen the US figure that about half of all US personal bankruptcies are caused by medical bills, and mostly for people who have our so-called "coverage." ) The head of the Swiss system put it forthrightly: "If it ever happened, it would be a huge scandal."

Like A. Davis, I find Jeffrey Mingo's review unhelpful. I had no problem at all with the narrator's voice, and as I've suggested above, this is a quite different approach from "Sicko.
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