Julie's Reviews > The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care

The Healing of America by T.R. Reid
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Nov 06, 09

bookshelves: social-political-commentary, best-of-2009, read-2009
Recommended to Julie by: Fresh Air podcast
Read in November, 2009

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 Pacific to join the ranks of those who receive excellent health care at minimal or no out-of-pocket costs.

All of this, offered in 275 pages of succinct, clear and fascinating text. Anyone familiar with T.R. Reid's NPR commentaries as a correspondent in Japan and the U.K or his articles in the Washington Post will recognize his warm, engaging, self-effacing tone that is both professional and inclusive.

Rather than prescribing solutions, Reid's central theme is that we can and must learn by example. There is nothing in universal coverage that precludes competition, choice, and access. It is highly probable that universal coverage would result in the United States spending less and providing better care, while increasing the quality of life and life expectancy of all. As a portion of GDP, the US spends significantly more than the nations featured in this book, yet ranks well below in life expectancy, and measures of quality, fairness and progressive financing of health care.

Reid demonstrates again and again that the primary difference in the approach to health care between the United States- the only free-market, industrialized nation that relies on an out-of-pocket model- and those which offer universal coverage is a moral one. The countries he features have made the decision that access to health care is a basic human right and that government has a moral imperative to provide the same standard of care to all of its citizens, regardless of economic status.

On the other hand, the United States has determined that only those who can afford health care have a right to it. We continue to support systems (insurance companies) that ration care, cherry-pick their consumers and routinely deny coverage to those who pay into their system, all while placing the burden of coverage on employers. Reid posits that medical facilities and the training of medical personnel in the United States are the best in the world. Too bad over 20,000 Americans die every year because they cannot access this superiority.

We are foolish enough to listen to the pundits and talk-radio celebrities who decry "socialized medicine" without acknowledging that our nation's soldiers, veterans, Native Americans and those over 65 are all provided for by government-run, government-funded health care systems, one of which (Medicare) is a replicate of the Canadian system from which it takes its name.

To those who may think that Reid is preaching to the choir, be assured that he paints a "fair and balanced" picture. The long waiting lists for specialized care in Canada and the underfunded facilities in Japan are two examples of significant stumbles in universal coverage.

There is a bitter irony in pointing out that the same fearmongerers who warned that American life as we know it would be jeopardized if we did not pursue war in Iraq and continue it in Afghanistan are the same voices who cry out that the sky will crash down if we restructure our system to provide an equal standard of and access to health care for all our citizens. The immorality of these brutal stances makes me sick.
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Reading Progress

11/04/2009 "20K+ Americans die each year due to lack of insurance. This concept- "inadequate insurance"- exists nowhere else in the developed world." 3 comments

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Julie Excellent interview with TR Reid on Fresh Air from earlier this week. TR Reid has such an original style- love him 'lo these many years as NPR and NY Times correspondent. Can't wait to read this Reid!


message 2: by Chris (new)

Chris Another bravo review, Julie! :-)


message 3: by Jessica (new) - added it

Jessica This is one of your best reviews, Julie, even if I am just seeing it now. ;)


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