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The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care [Hardcover]

by T. R. Reid
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (337 customer reviews)


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Book Description

August 20, 2009 1594202346 978-1594202346 1
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.



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.

Review

"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


--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The Penguin Press; 1 edition (August 20, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594202346
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594202346
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (337 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #107,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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
296 of 314 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BEST WRITTEN MOST INFORMATIVE August 25, 2009
By cebepe
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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133 of 148 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important voice in the health care debate 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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134 of 151 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our Congress Needs to Read This 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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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking comparative analysis 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars healing of America review
Great descriptions of alternative health care policies in other countries. Embarrassing that the U.S. system is so poor. Our politicians should be ashamed
Published 4 days ago by John C. Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars What are the issues regarding how to deliver health care?
This book is excellent for reviewing what are the issues and challenges, regarding delivering health care to America. This was written pre-Obama care... Read more
Published 8 days ago by laura miller
5.0 out of 5 stars This should be required reading!
This is a fabulously interesting and easy to read book that compares the healthcare system in the United States to other countries. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Target fan
4.0 out of 5 stars Informative and enlightening.
Clearly the US spending is way too high. Reid accomplishes his objective to show that the US stands alone in not making the moral commitment to universal coverage (even though... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Pete
5.0 out of 5 stars Used in Every One of My Classes!
I have every single student in health course that I teach read this book. I hope they update it soon so that I can continue to use it for years to come.
Published 29 days ago by Justin Swearingen
3.0 out of 5 stars Government cheese
I feel like until its identified why it is a hundred a second for medical care we're just finding new ways to pay for it. Read more
Published 1 month ago by CC_dm
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and must read1
This book is great for everyone not just public health professionals. If you enjoy learning get this book. It teaches us we can learn from other health systems around the world. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Roger Mendoza
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative
Great overview of international health systems, with a personal touch. Makes what could be really heavy reading easy to absorb.
Published 1 month ago by A Vichare
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional Novel!
A very good book to read. Mr. Reid knows how to engage a reader into his writing. This book provides a very deep analysis of the issue that US is facing right now: health care... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jagat Patel
5.0 out of 5 stars "Healing of America' is the right way To Health Insurance.
T.R. Reid reminds us that society should take care of its own; our own does not include for-profit insurance companies unless of course one feels beholden to those who take our... Read more
Published 2 months ago by RG
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