Megan'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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's review
Apr 09, 2011

really liked it
Read from May 08 to June 09, 2011

My husband and I are each 30 years old, and in excellent health. We eat well, exercise every day, wear seat belts, and don't smoke. We decided, during the 5 months between the end of one job and the start of grad school (each of which provide full health coverage), we would go without health insurance. Then, last week, an unexpected issue sent me to the emergency room and required immediate surgery. Today, I got the bill. Almost $17,000. The reason I'm even coherent enough to write this (and not on my bed, weeping about the complete loss of our savings) is that, miraculously, my husband's COBRA enrollment period had not yet lapsed, and we were able to sign up for it and get retroactive coverage. Of course, I can't believe our luck, but it makes me wonder: what happens to families who receive $17,000 medical bills who don't have COBRA, but make too much (or are too young) to qualify for Medicaid/Medicare coverage? It boggles my mind. Aside from the fact that it cannot possibly be good for the economy to have any number of its 45 million uninsured annually going bankrupt because of unforeseen medical costs, what can we say about the morality of a system that allows people to go through that? The United States has a moral choice to make, and inexplicably, it continues to refuse to make that choice, despite its citizens inalienable rights. I have to say, I'm feeling pretty alienated from them right now.

Apropos of my recent experience, this book is a must read if you have or want an opinion on health care systems. It's engagingly written, and chock full of alarming statistics: 22,000 Americans die of preventable diseases every year; tens of millions of Americans are uninsured; we are the only developed nation that has not made the moral choice that every citizen has a right to medical care; in a WHO ranking of 191 countries' health care systems, we come in 34th...

What's missing from this book, and what needs to come in a sequel (by Reid, or someone else who can write as accessibly) is a detailed outline of how we actually achieve a system as equitable, and inexpensive, as the systems in Germany, Japan, or the UK.

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Berkeley (new)

Berkeley Keep us posted! Very interested

Megan So far, I absolutely cannot put it down. I'm only 50 pages in, but I recommend it highly!

message 3: by Nancy (new)

Nancy You might follow up with reading Redefining Health Care; Creating Value Based Competition On Results (2006) by Michael E. Porter and Elizabeth Olmstead Teisberg. I believe Teisberg is associate professor at Univ of Virginia's Darden School of Business, focusing on stretegy and innovation, so you could even go meet her when you move there. (Porter is a prof at Harvard.) I haven't read this book myself, but Darrel encourage me to read it when he got involved with the Harvard-MIT group that is generating solutions for improved stroke care. (And I am happy and proud to say some of their recommendations have been put into policy by various care centers in the US and saving lives.)

message 4: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Wow. There's nothing like personal experience to make an issue hit home. My own hardworking mom became disabled a few years shy of retirement age and has massive medical expenses... then my stepdad lost his job. If there hadn't been a law temporarily extending the amount of time that people can be on insurance through COBRA, she would've been screwed. So frustrating.

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