PH2009092501847Most of the discussions I’ve read or heard on what kind of health care systems exist in other countries seem to rely on one or two “facts” to make a case for or against, but provide very little insight in to how the individual systems actually function. So it was great to come across this video on C-span’s Q & A of former Washington Post reporter T. R. Reid discussing his new book, THE HEALING OF AMERICA: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care.

Basically, Mr. Reid took his old Navy injured shoulder on a journey to France, Germany, Japan, India, Canada, and the United Kingdom, to assess their treatment options and get a first hand look at their health care systems.

From a related Frontline report Mr Reid did (major h/t Zoom):

We were looking for examples of each of the established models of health care systems. The U.K. uses the Beveridge model; Taiwan has chosen the Canadian-style National Health Insurance [NHI] model; Germany, Japan and Switzerland use the Bismarck model. We went to three Bismarck countries on the theory that these private-sector systems are more relevant to America than a British-style National Health Service.

I got interested in Taiwan because Taiwan’s Health Ministry did what our film does; it traveled the world studying health care systems. In the end, Taiwan chose the Canadian model. We went to Switzerland because it is a ferociously free-market economy with politically powerful insurance and drug companies. But still, the Swiss managed to revamp their system, making it cheaper and fairer. We thought that might inspire Americans to believe that change is possible here, too.

He also looks at the moral question of the right to health care regardless of ones ability to pay.

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While he does not present a definitive answer to who has the best health care, Mr. Reid gives an engaging account of this travels and experiences while presenting an enlightening perspective and analysis of other countries health care systems.

What we’ve learned overseas is that successful national systems have settled on one model — be it Beveridge, Bismarck or NHI — for everybody. This is fairer, cheaper and far more efficient than our badly fragmented crazy-quilt system.

I don’t think the systems we see in our film are un-American. The British system — the Beveridge model — is the same system used by the U.S. Veterans Administration. If this is un-American, why do we use it for America’s military heroes? And the Canadian system — the National Health Insurance model — is the model for Medicare. If it were un-American, would we use it for 36 million elderly Americans?

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