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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  5,032 Ratings  ·  646 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 277 pages
Published August 20th 2009 by Penguin Press (first published 2009)
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Sep 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, medicine
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
Dec 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book was published in 2009. yet the author’s major findings still apply today. Strongly recommend for anyone interested in U.S healthcare reform.

The author T.R. Reid travelled to a number of developed countries, France, Germany, Japan, UK, Canada etc. to personally experience their respective healthcare systems, then compare and contrast with that of U.S.
Unlike U.S, these countries all offer some form of universal healthcare (UHC) that covers everyone, and yet they all spend remarkably le
Julie Christine
Aug 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Julie Christine 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
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"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
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: random-politics
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
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I came across this book by reading the author's other book, A Fine Mess, about tax systems around the world. The conclusion here is similar: US healthcare system as a whole is the worst out of rich countries, on pretty much all dimensions. But that's not new. Where this book shines is adding nuance and technical understanding of benefits and shortcomings of each system. If your view about US healthcare is like mine - shaped by late-night talk show jokes and attention-grabbing headlines - this is ...more
Matthew Hall
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017, nonfiction
This book was so great. With the conversation around how to fix healthcare in America ascendant, this book was a really great resource for thinking about changes to our system. TR Reid (back in 2009, pre-ACA days) visited seven different countries to investigate how they run their healthcare systems, and to think about ways in which we might overhaul the American healthcare system, which is both the most expensive in the world, and produces society-wide results which are middling at best, even w ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
Compares healthcare systems from all over the world and demonstrates that the US could do a lot better with the myriad of systems that other countries have developed to deliver universal healthcare to their people. Hell, we have a partial implementation of these universal systems. We have the Canadian system for people over 65 we call it Medicare we could just simply expand that single-payer model to the whole population. It is not like we are trying something untested. Plenty of countries alrea ...more
Feb 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone with a chronic illness, health care is a necessity. My life depends on medications that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each and every year, not to mention doctors appointments, hospital stays, lab tests, bloodwork, etc. The issue of access to affordable health care has been on my mind for years, particularly during the past 12 months as the current administration tried to repeal the Affordable Car Act. (Full review on The Bookly Club.)
Preston Kutney
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Ana Teixeira
Aug 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
The most important conclusion of the book goes ignored by its own author: almost all systems presented in the book are either flat out broke (UK, France) or a ticking time bomb squeezing doctors' pay or service availability to the limit (Japan, Canada). The only system that seems financially healthy is the Swiss - and it is not a coincidence that it is (by far) the most expensive of the ones analyzed. And I am saying this only using information from the book itself.

In addition, not only it ignor
C. Scott
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
A really excellent bit of comparative analysis. I wish books like this existed for every subject. Reid takes the reader for a global tour of how healthcare works in other countries. The American healthcare system is frankly a disgrace. In the eyes of other developed nations we are a laughingstock. It is a scandal that the richest nation on earth can't find a way to meaningfully address this problem.

Thanks to this book I now have a much clearer understanding of the most popular national healthca
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Among developed countries, America is a laughingstock when it comes to health care. Our pathetic system is ridiculously expensive—all for less coverage, lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality, more death for treatable illnesses, and more bankruptcy as a result of medical bills (people in other countries are horrified by this cruel fact of American life). Why is this?

1. Universal coverage is a moral issue that America has never addressed head on; politicians always make this out to be an
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I read this a few years ago and decided to re-read it since health care in America continues to be debated. Reid does a good job of explaining health care systems around the world. He says "There are some standard building blocks of health care system architecture that all developed countries (except the United States) have agreed on. By studying the blueprints and looking at these common principle, we can learn some important lessons about fixing the problems in our own health care system." I a ...more
Aug 21, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Sep 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 25, 2009 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
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I went to a conference in 2014 and saw T. R. Reid give a lecture on the Affordable Care Act. As soon as I got home, I made a note to read this book. It took me over 3 years to get around to actually reading it, and I'm so glad I did. It was often infuriating and sometimes sad, but because I work as sort of a nationwide patient advocate for folks with chronic illness, nothing in this book was a surprise to me. I wish everyone would read this book.
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book should be required reading for all members of congress.
Ben Clark
May 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
I went from "understanding" health care and health insurance like a n00b millennial who just voted in the recent election like I knew what I wanted out of our insurance system, to getting a survey of national health insurance systems, and a deeper understanding of how universal coverage systems are similar and implemented around the world. T.R. Reid uses a good narrative trick to keep me turning pages. Rather than strictly explaining outright how the U.K., Germany, Canada, Japan, and France impl ...more
Suzanne GT
Jan 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Central to this book is the notion that, "Every nation's health care system reflects that nation's basic moral values." Reid offers a clear, easy to read examination of the American health care system vis a vis other industrialized nations. Sobering and provocative. Timely and well worth the time to read.
Mar 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
April Helms
Aug 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Oct 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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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
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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.” 4 likes
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