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


From Publishers Weekly
Washington Post correspondent Reid (The United States of Europe) explores health-care systems around the world in an effort to understand why the U.S. remains the only first world nation to refuse its citizens universal health care. Neither financial prudence nor concern for the commonweal explains the American position, according to Reid, whose findings divulge that the U.S. not only spends more money on health care than any other nation but also leaves 45 million residents uninsured, allowing about 22,000 to die from easily treatable diseases. Seeking treatment for the flareup of an old shoulder injury, he visits doctors in the U.S., France, Germany, Japan and England—with a stint in an Ayurvedic clinic in India—in a quest for treatment that dovetails with his search for a cure for America's health-care crisis, a narrative device that sometimes feels contrived, but allows him valuable firsthand experience. For all the scope of his research and his ability to mint neat rebuttals to the common American misconception that universal health care is socialized medicine, Reid neglects to address the elephant in the room: just how are we to sell these changes to the mighty providers and insurers? (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Description
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 reasonable cost.

In his global quest to find a possible prescription, Reid visits wealthy, free market, industrialized democracies like our own-including France, Germany, Japan, the U.K., and Canada-where he finds inspiration in example. Reid shares evidence from doctors, government officials, health care experts, and patients the world over, finding that foreign health care systems give everybody quality care at an affordable cost. And that dreaded monster "socialized medicine" turns out to be a myth. Many developed countries provide universal coverage with private doctors, private hospitals, and private insurance.

In addition to long-established systems, Reid also studies countries that have carried out major health care reform. The first question facing these countries-and the United States, for that matter-is an ethical issue: Is health care a human right? Most countries have already answered with a resolute yes, leaving the United States in the murky moral backwater with nations we typically think of as far less just than our own.

The Healing of America lays bare the moral question at the heart of our troubled system, dissecting the misleading rhetoric surrounding the health care debate. Reid sees problems elsewhere, too: He finds poorly paid doctors in Japan, endless lines in Canada, mistreated patients in Britain, spartan facilities in France. Still, all the other rich countries operate at a lower cost, produce better health statistics, and cover everybody. In the end, The Healing of America is a good news book: It finds models around the world that Americans can borrow to guarantee health care for everybody who needs it.

This book should be required reading for every American, August 24, 2009
By Michelle Long (Boise, ID)


I am a nursing student. I returned to college after 20 years in hospitality and project management in order to realize my dream of a career focused not on money but on providing care to the most vulnerable. One disturbing pattern has cropped up in my education- the emphasis (when studying the importance of avoiding potentially life threatening errors) placed more on avoiding liability than on the well-being of the patient (or "client" as we are now taught, in this money-driven society). It also strikes me that I have never heard it suggested that a health care professional should be painstaking in her work in order to prevent avoidable errors that would bring dishonor to herself or her profession. The focus is on avoiding "costly" errors.

This is where Mr. Reid's book is a most welcome addition to the conversation on health care in America. He shows us that it is possible to have an excellent health care system that is focused on the well-being of the patient and not the all-mighty dollar. He also breaks down a complicated subject into an enjoyable reading experience, with prose that is clear and intelligent and often humorous.

I find it extremely disappointing that so many Americans blindly buy into the myths about the "poor" health care available in other rich, developed nations (every one of which, with the sole exception of the U.S., provide universal health care) while touting false grandiose statements about the superiority of American medicine.

Mr. Reid explains the reality of the better and cheaper health care systems of nations like Switzerland and Japan in terms (to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson) "so plain and firm as to command their assent." He also introduces us to health care professionals who are driven not by monetary motives but by a desire to heal and prevent illness.

If you believe that access to health care (note, I did not say free health care) is a basic human right, then buy this book. Actually, if you are simply interested in learning the honest facts on the ground- buy this book.

BEST WRITTEN MOST INFORMATIVE, August 25, 2009
By Charles Parselle (United States)


I bought this book after reading Jacob Weisberg's review in Newsweek. It is the best thing on the subject for the following reasons: 1. It is well written even funny in places. 2. It is very informative. 3. It presents comparative data both as to health outcomes and also ways of paying for health care 4. It is non-partisan, even though by the end one wonders why we Americans are paying so much for health outcomes that are actually worse than any comparable country. 5. It is revealing as to the complexity of the US; for example, I didn't know that as many as 80 million Americans are already covered by systems nearly identical to the British or Canadian, i.e. medicaid, medicare, military, veterans and Department of Indian Affairs - who would have thought that? But 45 million others are not covered at all. Everyone else is covered, more or less, by insurance and so are the Germans, French and Japanese etc. But what a difference in the insurance systems! In the other countries you get insurance just like here EXCEPT THAT 1. you cannot be denied 2. you cannot be cancelled 3. everyone is covered and 4. your premiums are regulated by government which of course is what the entire debate is about. Because here the insurance industry is for profit and the premiums reflect that fact, the amazing fact that US health is the USA's largest industry by far, larger that the State of California, four times larger that the military, in fact US health would be the world's 8th largest country. No wonder the debate is so fierce. This excellent books set it all out readably and comprehensively.

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