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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see for all interested in reforming health care
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...
Published on December 23, 2008 by A. Davis

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Basic synopsis included in this review.
Just in case you haven't heard, America now has the most costly and dysfunctional health care system among the world's major industrialized free-market democracies.

This PBS/Frontline hour explains in very simple terms the basic structures of the (better functioning) health care systems of England, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland.

* JAPAN:...
Published on January 8, 2011 by Tony Polito


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see for all interested in reforming health care, December 23, 2008
This review is from: Frontline: Sick Around the World (DVD)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Best hour you'll spend understanding healthcare reform choices, June 23, 2009
By 
Robert Schwartz (Princeton, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frontline: Sick Around the World (DVD)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Nothing to Sneeze At, August 24, 2009
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This review is from: Frontline: Sick Around the World (DVD)
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. The downside is that German doctors are woefully underpaid.

Taiwan looked at all the universal healthcare systems worldwide, wanting to select the best of each. With operating costs at 2%, people's medical history are kept on "smart cards" that are mailed electronically to the government, who in turn pays the bills. There is no waiting to see any kind of doctor on Taiwan.

The ones who were dragged kicking and screaming to universal healthcare were the Swiss, where capitalism is king, and there are more gun owners per capita than in the U.S. With a vote that separated those opposed from those in favor by tenths of points, the Swiss embraced healthcare and never looked back. Their insurance companies and pharmaceuticals, which predicted dire consequences from the same are surviving quite nicely, in part, from money they make from U.S. consumption.

Each country shares certain features: Insurance companies must accept everyone and may not profit on basic care. People must buy insurance and the government will pay for the poor. Doctors and hospitals must accept one standard of costs for medical care. The people in each of these countries are overwhelmingly satisfied with their healthcare where no one goes bankrupt because of treatment.

He finds similarity in each of their systems to ours: Our Veterans' Administration is akin to the British healthcare system, the Taiwanese system is equivalent to what we offer our seniors, the German system is equivalent to what the insured American working family receives, but for those Americans who have no insurance, we are just like any other poor country in the world. Reid laments, that in the countries that provide ready access, healthcare is considered a public duty, not a business for profit.

Mr. Reid starts this story by telling us that the U.S., the number one superpower, is 37th in the world in the quality of healthcare it provides. He ends this with a warning: "The longer we leave it [our current healthcare system], the sicker it becomes, and the more expensive it becomes."

This is an entertaining and informative story. Frontline proves once again that it is television at its best. This narrative is definitely a pill you can swallow, and worth the purchase.

At the very least, it is nothing to sneeze at.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required viewing if you have ANY interest in healthcare systems, March 4, 2009
By 
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This review is from: Frontline: Sick Around the World (DVD)
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." It is a genuine documentary, while "Sicko", though an excellent stirrer-up, was mainly a polemic. There is most certainly lots of new information in this documentary, far beyond the basic idea that healthcare is a right, as other civilized nations agree.

*** Note added 3/28/2009 - On March 31 2009 at 9 PM ET PBS is showing a companion documentary "Sick Around America." Let's see how it resembles or differs from Michael Moore's "Sicko" - which all with an interest in healthcare should also see. *** Note added 4/17/2009 - Hah - irony is wonderful - I was "Sick in America" on the 31st and missed the documentary! (Think I had norovirus.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a timely documentary, November 23, 2009
By 
Matthew G. Sherwin (last seen screaming at Amazon customer service) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frontline: Sick Around the World (DVD)
This documentary is very well done and cogently presented and organized. Frontline has correspondent T.R. Reid travel the globe to study health care system in six different countries to show how America could possibly use or take parts of their health care system in order to fix our own ailing system. T.R. Reid goes to Great Britain, Japan, Switzerland, Germany and the small island nation of Taiwan and what he discovers is fascinating.

For example, the British don't ever pay a medical bill under their National Health Services system. There can be a wait to see a doctor in some cases but wait times have been cut down drastically since the 1990s and that's quite impressive. Doctors even get a bonus for keeping their patients healthy!

In Japan, everyone must sign up for health insurance but the government pays for people who are too poor to afford health insurance. They have a fixed price system and no waiting time to see a doctor. Unfortunately, as you'll see when you watch this documentary, there are issues and a real downside to the Japanese system.

Switzerland changed to universal health care in the 1990s; and that vote was close! The state pays for the poor and health insurance companies can't make a profit. So how do the health insurance companies stay alive? Watch and find out!

Germany has universal health care that is excellent although despite its excellence rich people can opt out of the system. Germans pay insurance premiums based on their income and your health insurance continues even if you've lost your job. Is there a downside or are there other issues regarding this story? Yes--but I won't spoil it for you.

Taiwan has grown considerably; as recently as the 1980s about half of Taiwanese people had no health insurance at all. What did they do? They looked at many different health care systems from all over the world and tried, rather successfully, to take only the good parts from several different national programs--and it's working for them although as you'll see this is still not a perfect system.

This documentary is very timely given what the Congress is debating and what the Obama administration wants for our country in the way of universal health coverage. There are major lessons and conclusions drawn at the end of this film that will enlighten you; and it helps to see where these systems succeed and where they fail. I recommend this for anyone interested in the current health care debate; and people studying this topic for any other reason would do well to add this to their collections.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must See Documentary..., March 9, 2009
By 
Curtis Bard "c.bard" (OldAndRareBooks at "Bard's Delight" a rustic homestead in the Western New York Southerntier.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frontline: Sick Around the World (DVD)
This is an excellent documentary in that it sets the stage for our (American) policy makers to look at the health care system in other countries to see what they are doing right (and wrong) in this critical area; before our system implodes.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Basic synopsis included in this review., January 8, 2011
By 
Tony Polito "TonyPolito" (Greenville, North Carolina) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Frontline: Sick Around the World (DVD)
Just in case you haven't heard, America now has the most costly and dysfunctional health care system among the world's major industrialized free-market democracies.

This PBS/Frontline hour explains in very simple terms the basic structures of the (better functioning) health care systems of England, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland.

* JAPAN: Total costs are half, people visit thrice as much and their health stats are far better. Everyone must take a policy, employers chip in, and the funds are centrally pooled from the non-profit insurers. The government subsidizes the poor, runs the sole consolidated payment system and negotiates the fixed prices annually. Private hospitals and doctors are profitable, despite $100 MRIs and $10 rooms.

* GERMANY: National plan covers medical, dental and optical. Private doctors and hospitals; non-profit insurers. Income-based insurance rates; a $60 annual co-pay. Standardized, negotiated prices are 75% less. Doctors earn half, but only pay 10% for their malpractice insurance. The rich can opt-out.

* TAIWAN: In 1995, studied 30 other systems, then revamped. Everyone must join and pay, no opt-out. Covers drugs, vision, acupuncture, everything. Everyone has a medical smart card holding their entire history, and insurer billing is electronic, so all those massive paper-pushing costs are eliminated.

* In all five countries, everyone is covered, prices are fixed, insurance companies are non-profit and total costs are far lower.

So much for any argument that what's going on in America is some sort of efficient, cost-minimizing approach thanks to being free-market-driven. The fact is we do what we do because it enriches certain of the players a whole lot more - at that is at the expense and efficiency of all the others.

An hour of easy, worthy, informative viewing. Afterward, you'll expect much better of our own health care system - - and the politicians who should be fixing it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The answers are out there.", May 28, 2013
By 
Carl M. Toney (Portland, ME, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frontline: Sick Around the World (DVD)
The quote from the "X Files" series could not be more appropriate. This is a documentary which every American adult should see. Presenting a readily accessible and balanced summary overview of how other similar developed countries are addressing the health care of their respective citizens.

If we are to ever solve America's health care challenges we need to look and learn from those who reside beyond our physical and societal borders. "Sick Around the World" is an excellent "first step" on a long and complex journey.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for anyone who has an opinion on the debate over HC reform, October 4, 2009
By 
Dan Dean (Myrtle Beach, SC USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Frontline: Sick Around the World (DVD)
This was REALLY good. Very bipartisan. They went around to the strongest economic countries and showed the good and the bad of each nation's health care. England, Germany, and Japan were the main spotlighted countries but all were very interesting... It showed many great approaches and attitudes which Americans should really look at when considering reform. Everyone who has an opinion on the health care argument over the last few months should absolutely see this! Very highly recommended!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sick Around the World, June 15, 2009
By 
Irene Erdie (Helena, MT USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Frontline: Sick Around the World (DVD)
Very well done! Anyone interested in the US healthcare system should watch Sick Around the World!
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Frontline: Sick Around the World
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