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

4.22 of 5 stars 4.22  ·  rating details  ·  2,905 ratings  ·  511 reviews
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 reasonabl
Hardcover, 277 pages
Published August 20th 2009 by Penguin Press HC, The (first published 2009)
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As I set out to write something about this book, I realize that I don't have much input or interest in reviewing nonfiction books. Or maybe just nonfiction books whose primary goal is to educate the reader on some specific issue. That's what The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care is, and Reid does an excellent job of achieving this goal. And by the way, when are we going to decide whether health care is two words or one? This indecisiveness, similar to ...more
Alex Templeton
This was one of the most infuriating books I've ever read. This was not because the book was bad, but because the points it laid out were so smart that I can't believe our policy makers and our population can really be so ignorant as to, well, ignore them. Reid visited different countries around the world that offer universal health care to their citizens. He discovers, in a nutshell, that not only are these systems not "socialist", but that they are far more efficient and cost-effective than an ...more
Nov 06, 2009 Julie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Julie by: Fresh Air podcast
The upside of reading this book is that you will walk away with a clearer understanding of how different models of health care work, how massive reforms in health care have been undertaken recently and with success, and you will have the knowledge to debunk myths many Americans hold about health care systems outside of the United States.

The downside of reading this book is that you may walk away and want to keep on walking- directly north to Canada, or to don your fins and cross the Atlantic or
"On September 11, 2001, some three thousand Americans were killed by terrorists; our country has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But that same year, and every year since then, some twenty thousand Americans died because they couldn’t get health care. That doesn’t happen in any other developed country. Hundreds of thousands of Americans go bankrupt every year because of medical bills. That doesn’t happen in any other developed country either."

This is pr
Reid examines America's health system within the context of the health systems of France, Germany, Japan, the UK and Canada (all universal systems). He also briefly looks at out-of-pocket systems, i.e. the third world and uninsured Americans. As a political scientist, my take on these issues is pretty much always institutional and political culture. Reid's jumping off point is the moral question "Should we guarantee medical treatment to everyone who needs it?" The answer to this question in a fi ...more
For those of us who have already reached the conclusion that the health care system in this country is laughable (in a devastating way), this little masterpiece beautifully clarifies what we already know. Our system is overly complex, sickeningly unequal and discriminatory, and grossly expensive. As a wealthy country in the industrialized world, we are the only nation that has not adopted universal health care of some kind. We are the only nation that allows for-profit insurance companies result ...more
This book was recommended to me by a friend a couple of years ago. After months and months of debating friends about the necessity of "Obamacare" (The PPACA or ACA for short), I decided it was finally time to pick up this book and get an idea of what others were doing in the health care arena. I know what I don't like about our system- cost, lack of access for those who don't have insurance or money. And, I know what I like- the availability of doctors and medicine and procedures as long as you ...more
Preston Kutney
I'm probably just a biased Canadian, but here is an excerpt from a great Malcolm Gladwell article that describes my opinion of the U.S. health care system:

"One of the great mysteries of political life in the United States is why Americans are so devoted to their health-care system. Six times in the past century—during the First World War, during the Depression, during the Truman and Johnson Administrations, in the Senate in the nineteen-seventies, and during the Clinton years—efforts have been
Aug 25, 2009 Nancy marked it as to-read
Okay, I fess up--I haven't read this book yet, but I heard Terry Gross interviewing the author on NPR's Fresh Air last night, and it sounds fascinating. Reid, a Washington Post correspondent, set out to examine health care systems around the world to demystify American fears of socialized medicine, health care rationing, and lack of choice.

Using his bum shoulder as an example (he broke it many years ago in the Navy, had it surgically repaired with a steel pin, and is now suffering pain and lack
This book should be required reading for all Americans, especially the policymakers among us.

In my view, the most succinct way to summarize the problems with health care in our country is misplaced incentives.

For insurance companies (and many hospitals), it's the profit motive--it completely skews what should be the whole point of health care, to help people be healthy. For example, 40,000 Americans die every year because they do not have health insurance, either because it's too expensive or
I convinced my book club to read this some months (years) ago. I feel like it should be required reading for any thinking American. It's actually quite an entertaining book, though you'd think a journey through the world's health care systems would be a snore. T. R. Reid, a longtime journalist with an affable, slightly rumpled on-air persona (the book was also reshaped as a Frontline special) takes an ailing shoulder to numerous countries for possible treatment. In very accessible terms, he desc ...more
The Healing of America is a quick tromp through the health care systems of several foreign countries, including Canada, France, Japan, and Britain. Author T.R. Reid, using an old Navy shoulder injury as a common device for his worldwide tour, seeks to categorize and inform the reader about how every other industrialized country (and he repeatedly emphasizes America's sad exceptionalism in this regard) tackled the problem of universal health care coverage, and the challenges each system will face ...more
Intriguing comparison of different healthcare systems. The reason why I have to give two stars is that this author made statements which I feel are inaccurate, including the average salary of a family doc( which he overinflated) in the US, that emergency Medicaid does not cover a womans pregnancy, and that Medicare is "working". With these inaccuracies, it makes me question the rest of the facts in this book. He is quick to gloss over how many of these systems are working with a deficit, continu ...more
Jonna Higgins-Freese
Reid researches how universal health care works in half a dozen different countries, exploding the myth of "American exceptionalism." The U.S. does NOT have the "best health care in the world" by any measure: not outcomes, not life span, not cost, not number of people covered. Reid points out that every other developed country except the US has answered the question: is health care a human right? with "yes."

In the US, about 20,000 people a year die of treatable conditions because they don't hav
For anyone wanting to know what's really broken about America's health care system, this is an excellent book to read. It's written by a correspondent for the Washington Post and is a comparison of America's health care system with those of Canada, the UK, France, Germany, and Japan.

The key question for any society that designs a health care system is whether it should be guaranteed, as is free education and voting. Or is it to be viewed as a commodity to be bought and sold, like products such
I was on a role of not finishing books for several weeks and this was one of them. Unlike others I quit on, there wasn't a specific reason to stop reading. The writing was interesting and well paced for nonfiction. The topic was relevant to today's world and one I feel strongly about. However, I just wasn't in the mood for reality. I got far enough to learn a great deal from this book and felt satisfied with that. The author analyzes health care in a variety of countries. Although they are all v ...more
A great reading for those interested in learning the basics of different health care systems. The book analyzes health care in Britain, India, Canada, Japan, Germany, etc.

Reid places attention on the history of each nation's plight with health care and examines the limitations of each system. The message is clear, or at least his message is concise: other nations believe health care is a universal right. Although those countries believe health care is a fundamental human right, each must solve
Terri Lynn
This book was recommended to me by a friend during a recent discussion about the Affordable Care Act. She and I are liberals and interested in seeing both higher education and health care provided for all citizens of the USA. With the selfish, greedy, self-centered population of our country and its "me, me, ME!" heartbeat, this is highly unlikely. This is something that baffles people in all of the other first world nations and most of of the second world ones, ALL which offer health care to all ...more
T. R. Reid offers a prescription for our worst disease...bad health care at a high price. Want to see what our medical history is and our prognosis in the context of the rest of world? This book is the answer without the side effects of political rhetoric and pundit puffery. Reid is informative, witty, and clear sighted. He offers a succinct analysis of other health systems that work better and cost less than ours. It is obvious that we lack any functioning program and that our government has a ...more
I have watched a young man suffer because he is incapable of affording the medications he needs. He doesn't fit the criteria for Medicare, Medicaid, nor is he a government official or a military man in the service. He is just a young man trying to make it on his own, trying to work hard, trying to go to school, trying to make ends meet, trying to have the American dream, but can't because his health is failing him and the health care system in America is, too.

If you ask me, health care is a mor
The typical healthcare debate in the U.S. leads you to believe that there are only two types of healthcare systems in the world: (1) a private system where the doctors work for themselves or for a private practice, the hospitals are privately run, and the insurers are private companies and (2) a completely public system (“socialized medicine”) where the doctors work for the government, the government owns the hospitals, and the government pays the bills.

The Healing of America shows that there is
Jan 08, 2013 Cindy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Cindy by: Interview with T. R. Reid on NPR
There are some books that, when you read them, really rock your world. For me, this is one of them. As much as I agreed with most of what the author, T. R. Reid had to say, one thing he explained blew me away. In a country with cradle-to-grave healthcare, there is a strong incentive for preventive care. In a fragmented system, like in the US, there is no such incentive, because, from the insurance company's point of view, most likely, the insured will not be with the company for a long enough ti ...more
April Helms
This should be required reading for anyone interested in a serious, intelligent discussion on how to fix the health care mess in the United States. Reid, on a quest to investigate other health care systems - both for general knowledge and for feedback on the best treatment for his "bum shoulder" - traveled to several different countries to observe how health care was handled in other parts of the world. Reid combines a fun, lively writing style with a lot of facts, and those facts cast a harsh l ...more
I wish I could force every member of Congress to read this book right now. It is an excellent fairly unbiased look at American health care compared to other mostly successful health care models from around the world. Reid makes no qualms about the fact that he thinks that American health care is broken and that it is a moral travesty that the United States does not provide universal health care coverage, something I am in complete agreement with. He however does not espouse any one model over an ...more
I realized how persuaded I was by this book at a recent dinner with a number of our friends in which a few of them expressed decidedly critical views of the new healthcare law. I had just finished this book earlier that afternoon and thus was undoubtedly under its influence, but I kept thinking how I have never read anything or heard anyone argue as persuasively in defense of our nation's current healthcare system as TR Reid does against it.

And I was not just persuaded by it. I learned so much a
Read. This. Book.

It's a quick read, so quick you won't believe the amount of information it contains. It's also an easy read. With the central framing device of visiting individual countries to see their recommended course of treatment for a bum shoulder, Reid avoids a lot of dry fact-finding that might plague other books of its kind. Along the way he recounts the health care history of each country (France, Germany, England, Japan, Canada, and India) as well as outlining major points about hea
The Healing of America is a look at the health care in developed nations. Reid takes his bum shoulder around the world to have it looked at and at the same time he discusses the cost, quality, effectiveness and insurance systems in those countries.
I am blown away by this book. I usually read fiction books and had to make myself open this book but after the 2nd chapter I was quoting his statics to my husband about how horrible our health care system in America is compared to those in other count
Book after book T.R. continues to hit the nail on the head. I met T.R. while living in London; a place where we all used the NHS and never encountered any major problems with the care we were provided. He's thoroughly researched and put together the best parts of each foreign healthcare system to show what America could learn and change about our habits. This book does not espouse the Michael Moore point of view (in fact, part of the premise of it is to straighten out that point of view), he's t ...more
I've long said that if I had unlimited funds, I'd buy hundreds of copies of the book about proper apostrophe use, The Girl's Like Spaghetti: Why, You Can't Manage without Apostrophes!and put it in rest stops around the country for people to read.

This book is, in many ways, on that level. The author travels to several other countries and presents the same complaint (his sore shoulder) and discusses how each country's health care system would solve the problem, and what it would cost.

It's convers
Every American should be required to read this book. Clearly and succinctly lays out how our health care system is not working a lot of the time and explains all the various health care systems in other countries, what we can learn from them, how they might or might not work for us. Most powerful is his thesis that providing every citizen with access to health care and medical treatment is a moral question. That is the element that is clearly missing from our current dialogue on the subject. He ...more
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T.R. Reid is a reporter, documentary film correspondent and author. He is also a frequent guest on NPR's Morning Edition. Through his reporting for The Washington Post, his syndicated weekly column, and his light-hearted commentary from around the world for National Public Radio, he has become one of America’s best-known foreign correspondents.

Reid, a Classics major at Princeton University, served
More about T.R. Reid...
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“The Universal Laws of Health Care Systems:

1. "No matter how good the health care in a particular country, people will complain about it"
2. "No matter how much money is spent on health care, the doctors and hospitas will argue that it is not enough"
3. "The last reform always failed”
“A lot of what we "know" about other nations' approach to health care is simply myth.” 3 likes
More quotes…