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The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care Paperback – August 31, 2010
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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"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
About the Author
T. R. Reid is a longtime correspondent for The Washington Post and former chief of its Tokyo and London bureaus. He is a commentator for National Public Radio and has been a correspondent for several PBS documentaries. His bestselling books include A Fine Mess, The Healing of America, The United States of Europe, The Chip, and Confucius Lives Next Door.
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As numerous studies have shown, even with "Obamacare", the U.S. has the least effective health care system in the developed world, with even some developing nations providing superior care to their populations than the current system provides citizens of the U.S. Though written before Obamacare, a careful reading of the book will tell readers, while an improvement over what we had, Obama care ultimately will not work, and will have to be restructured into one of the existing 3 national health care systems. While my personal preference probably is single payer, I think it would be easier to get citizens to accept the Bismarck model of NON PROFIT private insurance companies. While it will surprise people indoctrinated in the myth of the magic of the "free market", non profit insurance companies are very competitive; there actually are more health insurance companies per capita in Germany than in the U.S. France, which uses the Bismarck health care system generally is regarded as having the best health care system in the world. Germany's health care system, of course, is among the best too. Even though we have single payer Medicare, I think the Bismarck system would be an easier sell to people who have fallen prey to the Republicans' disingenuous arguments about national health care and "socialized" medicine.
Anyone truly interested in the nation's health care should read Reid's book, because it will be a genuine education on the various approaches to health care throughout the world.
"The Healing of America" is a must-read book that seeks a cure for our ailing, unfair, and absurdly expensive health care system. Longtime correspondent for the Washington Post, commentator and accomplished author T.R. Reid masterfully goes on a global quest to find the answers to our failing system while simultaneously seeking a cure to his ailing right shoulder. This is one of the most enlightening books I have read on this highly-debated an incendiary topic. This excellent, informative 303-page book includes the following thirteen chapters: 1. A Quest for Two Cures, 2. Different Models, Common Principles, 3. The Paradox, 4. France: The Vital Card, 5. Germany: "Applied Christianity", 6. Japan: Bismarck on Rice, 7. The UK: Universal Coverage, No Bills, 8. Canada: "Sorry to Keep You Waiting", 9. Out of Pocket, 10. Too Big to Change?, 11. An Apple a Day, 12. The First Question, and 13. Major Surgery.
1. A well-written, well-researched book on a highly-debated topic. Reid goes over the positives and negatives of each system in an accessible, even-handed, engaging manner.
2. Good use of charts to complement excellent narration.
3. Does a fantastic job of going over the four main health care models in existence around the world and some of it most popular combinations: Bismarck, Beveridge, National health insurance, and out-of-pocket.
4. Makes clear what the American health care system basically is throughout the book. "Americans generally recognize now that our nation's health care system has become excessively expensive, ineffective, and unjust."
5. Succeeds in developing a compelling thesis and works his way to superior solutions. "The thesis of this book is that we can find cost-effective ways to cover every American by borrowing ideas from foreign models of health care."
6. Makes it plainly clear. The American health care system is in reality a health care market. "For anyone with the money--or the insurance policy--to pay for it, American medical treatment ranks with the best on earth."
7. "The shortcomings of our system can be grouped into three basic problems: coverage, quality, and cost." Reid consistently references our system as it compares and relates to other systems around the globe. "All the other developed countries see to it that every person has a right to health care when necessary. We don't."
8. Some statements just speak for themselves and are a recurring theme. "The United States is the only developed country that relies on profit-making health insurance companies to pay for essential and elective care." And as a result..."The United States is the only developed country that allows insurance companies to refuse coverage to people for fear that they might get sick."
9. Introduces quirks in the American system that leads to unnecessary complexity, "The presence of countless different payers and fee schedules drives another unique feature of American health care: the cost shift." "The administrative patchwork makes everything about American medicine more complex and more expensive than it needs to be."
10. France is number one? "Whether or not you agree with the World Health Organization's conclusion that France has the world's No. 1 health care system, all the statistics on national health suggest that France rates near the top of the global rankings. France does a better job than almost any other country both in encouraging health and in treating those who get sick."
11. The three fundamental ways that the German health care system is different than ours.
12. The most prodigious consumer of health care, how their system works. "The Japanese system, in short, provides care to every resident of Japan, for minimal fees, with no waiting lists--and excellent results. This is a good deal for the people of Japan, and they take advantage of it, flocking to clinics and hospitals."
13. A comprehensive look at the British National Health Service system. "Free nationalized health care is such a basic part of British life today that not even the iron lady of British conservatism, Margaret Thatcher, ever dared take on the NHS."
14. The Canadian system. "The most distinctive lesson we could take, though, from Canada's health care system is the key point of the Tommy Douglas saga: Universal health care coverage doesn't have to start at the national level."
15. The reality of the out-of-pocket system. "This pattern also holds in the only wealthy country that uses the Out-of-Pocket Model for a significant portion of the population: the United States."
16. Great examples of countries that successfully overhauled their systems. "In the course of my global quest, I visited two countries that completely revamped their national health care arrangements: Switzerland and Taiwan. Both countries made a national commitment to provide health care to all. Having committed to universal coverage, both democracies were able to bring about the changes necessary to get there."
17. "THERE ARE TWO BASIC APPROACHES to the job of keeping people healthy: the Public Health Model and the Medical Model." How they differ.
18. Understanding the basic ethical questions of health care. "Your ethics, your sense of justice, determine how you distribute goods and services, including health care."
19. The five common American myths about health care systems overseas.
20. Includes an afterword chapter that briefly highlights "Obamacare".
1. It can get a little confusing. Jumping back and forth from different health care models is a little confusing. A reference table summarizing the four models and countries that apply such models would have been helpful.
2. No formal bibliography.
3. Some minor formatting issues visible in the Kindle but nothing major. A misspell (entities) here and a repeated word there (research).
In summary, this is one of the most enlightening books I have ever read. T.R. Reid does an outstanding job of educating the public on the four main health care arrangements around the world. He wisely uses his own ailing shoulder as a reference from which to compare how the various health care systems around the world (France, Germany, Japan, U.K., Canada, Switzerland, Taiwan and India) would address the issue. Most importantly, his global quest is a very successful one as it results in comprehensive answers on how to improve our American health care system. Outstanding book, get it!
Further recommendations: "How We Do Harm: A Doctor Breaks Ranks About Being Sick in America" by Otis Webb Brawley, M.D. with Paul Goldberg, "Landmark: The Inside Story of America's New Health-Care Law-The Affordable Care Act-and What It Means for Us All (Publicaffairs Reports)" by The Washington Post Staff, "Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer" by Shannon Brownlee, "Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health" by H. Gilbert Welsh, "Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine" by John Abramson, "Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients" by Ray Moynihan, "Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won't Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care" by Marty Makary, M.D., "Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father--and How We Can Fix It" by David Goldhill, "Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis---and the People Who Pay the Price" by Jonathan Cohn, "Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science" by Atul Gawande, and "Every Patient Tells A Story" by Lisa Sanders, M.D..