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The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care Paperback – August 31, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Washington Post correspondent Reid (The United States of Europe) explores health-care systems around the world in an effort to understand why the U.S. remains the only first world nation to refuse its citizens universal health care. Neither financial prudence nor concern for the commonweal explains the American position, according to Reid, whose findings divulge that the U.S. not only spends more money on health care than any other nation but also leaves 45 million residents uninsured, allowing about 22,000 to die from easily treatable diseases. Seeking treatment for the flareup of an old shoulder injury, he visits doctors in the U.S., France, Germany, Japan and England—with a stint in an Ayurvedic clinic in India—in a quest for treatment that dovetails with his search for a cure for America's health-care crisis, a narrative device that sometimes feels contrived, but allows him valuable firsthand experience. For all the scope of his research and his ability to mint neat rebuttals to the common American misconception that universal health care is socialized medicine, Reid neglects to address the elephant in the room: just how are we to sell these changes to the mighty providers and insurers? (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Important and powerful... a rich tour of health care around the world." --Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times

"You don't necessarily realize it while you're reading, but you're talking Comparative Health Economics 101. With a really fun professor." --Daily Kos

"Not many writers of any ilk... can match T.R. Reid's ability to bring a light, witty touch to really serious topics--like health policy around the globe." --New America Foundation

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143118218
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143118213
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (420 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

T. R. Reid is a longtime correspondent for The Washington Post and former chief of its Tokyo and London bureaus as well as a commentator for National Public Radio. His books include The United States of Europe, The Chip, and Confucius Lives Next Door.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

310 of 328 people found the following review helpful By cebepe on August 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book after reading Jacob Weisberg's review in Newsweek. It is the best thing on the subject for the following reasons: 1. It is well written even funny in places. 2. It is very informative. 3. It presents comparative data both as to health outcomes and also ways of paying for health care 4. It is non-partisan, even though by the end one wonders why we Americans are paying so much for health outcomes that are actually worse than any comparable country. 5. It is revealing as to the complexity of the US; for example, I didn't know that as many as 80 million Americans are already covered by systems nearly identical to the British or Canadian, i.e. medicaid, medicare, military, veterans and Department of Indian Affairs - who would have thought that? But 45 million others are not covered at all. Everyone else is covered, more or less, by insurance and so are the Germans, French and Japanese etc. But what a difference in the insurance systems! In the other countries you get insurance just like here EXCEPT THAT 1. you cannot be denied 2. you cannot be cancelled 3. everyone is covered and 4. your premiums are regulated by government which of course is what the entire debate is about. Because here the insurance industry is for profit and the premiums reflect that fact, the amazing fact that US health is the USA's largest industry by far, larger that the State of California, four times larger that the military, in fact US health would be the world's 8th largest country. No wonder the debate is so fierce. This excellent books set it all out readably and comprehensively.
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142 of 157 people found the following review helpful By P. J. Owen on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In `The Healing of America' TR Reid gives a tutorial on the basic types of health care systems in place around the world, and then tries to give an evenhanded analysis of what works in these systems and what doesn't. What gives the book its teeth though is his first-hand experience of health care systems in six different countries. In his quest, Reid brings a bum shoulder to these countries to find, as he puts it, `two cures': one for himself and one for the US health care system.

There's no question something needs to be done to fix the US health care system. The idea that the richest and most technologically-advanced country would let people die because they can't get the care they need or go bankrupt because they get sick is absurd. That is why the current debate about health care reform is needed. The problem though is that's it's hard to know what we're looking at when filtered through politicians and the majority of the media coverage. They focus on the extremes, especially those opposed to reform who mischaracterize the systems in other countries as `socialized medicine'. In this context, Reid provides a useful voice to the debate- whether you agree with his prescriptions or not. He de-stigmatizes the systems of other countries and explains why we're not as far removed from them as we think.

He shows us how other countries' systems are different, but also alike. Some `socialist' countries have private insurance and private doctors. In fact, Reid demonstrates how some countries actually have more choice than the US. In Germany for example, one can choose from hundreds of different insurance plans and go to any doctor, whereas US citizens are generally limited to one employer's plan and only `in-network' doctors.
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139 of 156 people found the following review helpful By P. T. Benghauser on August 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I can't vouch for the accuracy of all of Reid's accounts, but as an American expat who lived in Germany and the UK for a total of 28 years, I can confirm that his descriptions of the health care systems in those two countries are both accurate and fair.

The timing of this book is uncanny. Everyone who cares one whit about health care in the US should read it... and LISTEN to what it has to tell us.
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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Jijnasu Forever VINE VOICE on August 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Ever since the PBS documentary mentioned Reid's characterization of the different healthcare systems, I have been waiting anxiously for this book. Was well worth the wait.

The fundamental thesis of the book is that the US healthcare system can and must learn and adapt ideas from various other healthcare systems - the idea is not radical at all. What is unique about this book is that Reid systematically and convincingly disproves the common arguments centered on the notions of "socialized medicine". A sub-text of this thesis is perhaps a bit more novel than his original thesis - US doesn't have a healthcare delivery problem, but has a significant problem financing it. This re-framing of the problem, clearly and deliberately divorcing the clinical resources/processes from the administrative (non-clinical) processes, is very helpful in focusing the arguments Reid wants to make. While one could argue that this re-framing is oversimplification and too biased against payers, it becomes to a open-minded reader that, at least in the US context, it is absolutely critical to view the economics side of healthcare first. Reid convincingly makes an argument that the "capitalistic" idealism US markets crave for and swear for are not channeled appropriately or are in fact, have the wrong incentive structure.

Whether you agree with that viewpoint or not, the detailed global journey of Reid and his quasi-functional shoulder, helps a reader lead a vicarious patient life in a wide variety of settings, some more similar to the US than others. (Having grown up entirely in India, I certainly can relate to and think that the author's portrayal of India's healthcare system is accurate and presented in a matter-of-fact manner).
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