How Do They Do It? Healthcare

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

T.R. Reid, foreign correspondent for The Washington Post, hosts "Sick Around the World", the new Frontline documentary airing tonight on PBS. In it he looks at the way other industrialized nations manage to provide universal health care.


T.R. Reid

Comments [61]


Thanks, I'll check out the "please explain" segment on Lenny, and I'll email Brian the suggestion. I spoke with an economist at our club this evening, he promised to come up with answers to my questions. I'm having problems parsing the different types of debt that factor into the larger number. The economist told me that our overall debt is very difficult to calculate, and constantly changing, as currencies change, etc. He also said that the only thing that keeps us going, that allows us to "enjoy such a high quality of life" is the fact that foreign countries keep buying our debt. Because in his opinion, we don't really make "anything" anymore, we just consume.

Apr. 16 2008 12:55 AM
MCH from Brooklyn

Hi eva

That's a great idea for one of Brian's shows. You should email that to them. I did hear something on Leonard's show a few weeks ago - I think it was the "Please explain" segment. He had two economists on who were explaining the budget and the debt. It is hard to get your head around it. The two Democrats are selling the idea of ending the war as a way to get it in balance. There are many reasons why we HAVE to end the war but it will not balance the budget or pay the debt. Little problem of two letters "tr"illions as opposed to "b"illions.
John McCain's ridiculous claim that it will all be OK if we get rid of earmarks is even more absurd. We need to get a handle on earmarks but again, those two little letters come up.

Apr. 15 2008 06:03 PM

Not a shower, just a full-body radiation purge every night. Difficult to do once the sun has gone down, admittedly. I think the disappointing bit is that for selling your soul to the devil, you don't really get that much.
I think Brian should do a show on us debt owed to foreign countries. I'm still trying to figure out how much of the 9.5 trillion u.s. debt is owed to china.It's my hope that if people wake up to the debt issue (hello?) they'll start demanding accountability on every level. The takeover by big pharma of the FDA (reminds me of the resigned and beleaguered staff at the EPA) is just emblematic of larger issues of accountability, and our own failure to demand same.

Apr. 15 2008 05:55 PM
MCH from Brooklyn

Sorry to hear that eva. Did you feel like you had to take a shower at the end of every day? Just kidding. I do wonder how some of these people sleep at night.

It's our fault, though. Companies will behave this way if we allow it. We could at least start by re-funding the FDA. As long as drug companies finance the screening of their own products by the FDA it will never be a clean process.

Apr. 15 2008 05:12 PM
MCH from Brooklyn

Hi Cliff:

I believe that if all those things were really "socialized" the employees of all those companies would be government employees. Since the Canadian health care system relies on private practitioners who are then paid by the government then, strictly speaking it is not socialized. An example of "socialized" would be the Venezuelan oil companies which have been taken over buy the government. Not passing judgment on that, just stating the facts.

What makes you say that MacDonalds has been socialized?

Apr. 15 2008 04:53 PM

Cliff, my heart bleeds for you, yes, you in Canada, living like serfs! Feel better though, at the current level of US National Debt, we Americans will soon be enslaved by our debtors, and we'll no longer be allowed the privilege of yelling at the Chinese takeout delivery guy. Because he'll own our sorry asses. Speaking of which, I'm going down the street to yell at the takeout people, while I still have the opportunity.

Apr. 15 2008 04:16 PM

Yeah, Canada is a socialistic country. We've socialized not only healthcare but McDonald's, Best Buy, General Motors, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Toronto Maple Leafs and not least the Blue Jays. When you cross the border into Canada you feel you're in a closed society, no individual freedom and no free markets.

Apr. 15 2008 04:08 PM

MCH, I worked for a while on the "other side" - for a firm that consulted big pharma. I'm actually barred from discussing it. Just... ugh. Compare that to my time in health care, where I daily saw doctors treated like factory workers, just churning out reports, trying to maintain a shred of their dignity and what remained of the doctor-patient relationship. The system has been taken over, much like, it seems, everything else in this country. But I hope it's not too late.
I heard that some American photographer once asked De Gaulle why he looked depressed. He supposedly said, "because I'm conscious, I'm aware of what's going on." No matter how much we dope up the population, it aint' gonna erase that $9 trillion federal debt.

Apr. 15 2008 03:19 PM
MCH from Brooklyn

Oh, I so agree with you eva. What IS restless leg syndrome? Maybe there really is such a malady. If my legs twitch at night it usually means I haven't moved them enough.

I think Big Pharma moved in to fill a void. It is so not cost effective for a doctor to actually spend time with you to discover what is wrong. Much easier to prescribe a pill. And the pill might not even be very well tested. Check out our underfunded docile FDA.

Apr. 15 2008 03:01 PM

The discussion of big pharma reminds me of Lou Reed's refrain back in 1990: "Does anyone need..." Does anyone need another restless leg syndrome medication? Is there actually a restless leg "syndrome"? If your leg shakes during sleep, and it wakes you up, maybe you should just switch to decaf.
I sometimes wonder if the fact that we weren't out protesting the Iraq war en masse is linked to the overload of people blase-d out on SSRIs...There's now an entire generation of 30-somethings who have been on psychotropic meds since their teens. They have no idea who they ACTUALLY are... I'd laugh, but it's actually very sad. Thank you, big pharma. Thank you, complicit health care workers. Thank you, uneducated consumer.

Apr. 15 2008 02:57 PM
MCH from Brooklyn

Let's add to hjs's plan:

1. Research based medicine. Many of the newest prescriptions and procedures are not proven to be as effective as their inflated prices would have you think. If it going to be more expensive, it has to be just as more effective.

2. Medicare for everyone is similar to the Canadian system. Private providers which are paid by the government. This has been demigogued unfairly as "socialized medicine" but I don't care what you call it.

3. If you don't do the Canadian system then you must have some sort of individual mandate. Everyone pays what he/she can based on an income formula.

Apr. 15 2008 02:49 PM

re: the meretricious relationship between MD's and pharma reps (think of the reps as pimps and the MD's as the poor, wayward women...)
A couple years ago, The New York Times did an expose of how a medical equipment supplier had "seduced" doctors into favoring his company's equipment with fancy outings and dinners. My favorite bit: At one point, the rep took a group of nerdy doctors to a strip joint. This was expensed by the rep as: "a night at the ballet."
I sh*t you not on that story, it's in the Times archive. Read it. And weep. After you laugh. I love this country!

Apr. 15 2008 02:43 PM

hjs,i like your plan, but for "#6: greater role for nurses"
greater role for nurses... doing what?
there is already a greater role for nurses. It's called nurse practitioner, and is arguably the bridge between socialized/community medicine and what we have now, in that it allows nurses to diagnose and prescribe, and be more involved with their patients and communities. But they can't do it all... they need cooperation from the public, and they need a government program that is interested in achieving what I would call a core level of physical integrity within the population. That doesn't mean everyone has to be Dean Karnazes. Just that they get involved with their own bodies' maintenance. BTW, how about severing the meretricious (boy, that's putting it nicely) relationship between doctors and pharma reps?

Apr. 15 2008 02:30 PM
hjs from 11211

jon p.

I thought a little about my plan
1 more money for prevention
2 make Medicare available to everyone. if you want to pay the marketing, admin & executive costs of private insurance you are welcome to.
3 states stop regulating insurance, Fed's would, so any American can buy insurance from any state. cap profits, encourage fewer for profit insurance, via mergers.
4 doc's who have committed malpractice repeatedly to lose license everywhere in US, not one state at a time.
5 drugs created with public money (ie NIH) not for profit.
6 greater role for nurses.

just a few off the top of my head.

Apr. 15 2008 01:56 PM

Don't forget that hormones aren't a one-way street! Your activity level also affects your body's production of hormones, particularly stress hormones, which in turn can affect depression and activity levels. And, yes, that's a feedback loop. The bottom line that most docs and nurses would be happy for you to consider (and that insurance and big pharma don't want you to know): you have more control than you think. My argument: you have more control through exercise than if you submit yourself to what big pharma is peddling.
In answer to your question, yes, there are people with hormonal problems who become overweight. But this is a fraction of the overall obesity problem: our increasingly lower levels of activity and our increasingly higher consumption of processed foods.

Apr. 15 2008 01:46 PM
Katie from Forest Hills


What then do you make of people that have medical conditions that make them become obese and they have to take medication to control the hormones so they can lose weight? That is not their fault and it is not affected by how much they eat. Read up on insulin resistance and buy a copy of "French Women Don't get Fat."

Apr. 15 2008 01:36 PM
hjs from 11211

i'm not crazy enough to run for prez.
but we do need leaders if there are any left in the states

Apr. 15 2008 01:28 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

I agree we need something. If you can figure out how to get rid of those pesky lobbyists that are truly running this country, I think you could solve 93% of this country’s problems that affect us common folk besides just healthcare. And if you could do that, I’d not only strongly recommend you to run for president, I’d encourage everyone I know to vote for you….

HJS for president!!!

Apr. 15 2008 01:11 PM
hjs from 11211

jon p & eva

good points

jon, we still need to try, i think. also i know EU is not one country. they have better healthcare, why can't we. we are 50 states would it make u happy if we had 50 plans.
down with corporate bureaucracy

Apr. 15 2008 12:53 PM

Good question, the obvious reality is that we have to take care of people who are already sick. BUT let's be clear: it is not "taking care of people" when we allow people to develop the entirely preventable Type II diabetes and its attendant heart disease issues.
Think of exercise as "priming" the body to make and recognize insulin. This isn't going to resolve itself without massive government intervention. We NEED an AGGRESSIVE phys ed program in the schools that teaches kids not baseball and basketball, but how to run, how to do calisthenics - stuff kids can do for the rest of their lives without a court, a ball field, a team, etc. There is a high that comes from running, we need to train kids to find it. I guarantee you that if you teach kids distance running, you'll not only innoculate them against Type II and heart disease, but you'll help prevent drug abuse.

Apr. 15 2008 12:46 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

Dear HJS,

As much as they’d like to be, the European Union is not one country and last time I checked, they don’t have a universal health care system that covers all 500 million people. And besides they can’t even decide who they want in their club so it’s probably a good thing they don’t cover everyone.

As far as scaling everything small to big, you have obviously have forgotten that you live in the land of bureaucracy… Can you name one government program in this country that started small and got scaled up and didn’t end up screwing the tax payers?

As far as starting something new, do you think all the drug companies, insurance, hospital and doctor’s lobbyists are just going to go away? My initial point is that these institutions are going to be a big part of no matter what the solution is. If you don’t reform them first, no matter what you do, these institutions will still be making money had over fist while crying poor the whole time. Which do you think is more important, your insurance company caring about your health or how much their stock value is? No one is talking about reforming the system we have no choice but to work with no matter what the final solution is. That’s what scares me the most…..

Apr. 15 2008 12:44 PM
MCH from Brooklyn

Some interesting things to pull out from the discussion Brian is having and the one we are having here.

The idea of individual mandates is only a debate here. Whether done by a large tax base or by everyone paying some kind of premium, the burden is shared by everyone. At the same time there needs to be protection against extremely high premioums.

According to Bloomburg news Big Pharma's marketing outlay jumped 20% in 2003, R & D rose only by 7.1%. Maybe they shouldn't be advertising on TV. They didn't use to be able to.

Researchers at Dartmouth have discovered that high spending on end of life care is very regional. It depends on the number of specialists and the state of the technology and the high use of same. The outcomes, however are no better than in lower spending regions.

I agree with eva about preventive care and lifestyles. Not only should there by a higher supply of better compensated primary care givers (rather than all those specialists), but we should stop subsidizing corn products that make us fat like high fructose syrup. Soda is less expensive than water. Ridiculous!

See Mass., there is a shortage of primary care givers since they instituted their system.

Apr. 15 2008 12:43 PM

Good Lord, ab! No one has lost empathy. To be enraged about the lack of education for the poor about something as essential as preventive care, phys ed, nutrition - this is the opposite of losing empathy. To say it's a 2-way street is not to have lost empathy. It's to acknowledge empathy... and respect for what an individual can still wrest control of himself or herself! We make heroes of pro athletes - what about the athlete in you, ab? You're as important as the athlete they're interviewing now on Leonard Lopate.
It is non-empathetic to tell generations of children that we will take care of them if they don't take care of themselves, when the fact is that the hospitals are stuffed with people we're already not taking care of.
I've known so many poor people who took up an aggressive walking/exercise program, who went back to pushups indoors. The nutrition aspect is a big problem. But activity can and must be reincorporated back into daily life.

Apr. 15 2008 12:40 PM
hjs from 11211

welcome to the board,
what u say about prevention is true, but what to do today about sick people now??
do we wait another generation for the prevention to show up and let the ignorant just DIE in the mean time.

Apr. 15 2008 12:28 PM


Where did you say it? You did not say it is your tone. Which is my point. You are ignoring other factors to validate your point. I agree with much of what you say, but I think it's more complicated than the way you present it.

Apr. 15 2008 12:25 PM


You're ignoring all the socio-economic conditions that are involved with being poor and why the poor would have less time and access to a better diet that would prevent the very diabetes you're speaking of! DOH!

You seem to have lost the empathy for the patients you talk if the habits of the entire culture rests on the shoulders of that ONE individul whomever he/she may be

Yeah...we're a sick country...but losing the empathy for the infirmed and the sick and YES those with diabetes is NOT the way to bring about change, I'll tell you that much!

Apr. 15 2008 12:22 PM

I agree with you that we have an increasingly sedentary, overworked lifestyle. Where did I say "it's your fault"? I DID say it's a two way street.
I also know that this country is broke.
So whether you like it or not, the burden of healthcare is now on the individual. As, in truth, it always have been. There is only so much anyone can do for you once you're sick.
BTW, I lived in France. The French have traditionally exercised enormous social controls on eating. If France, it IS your fault if you're even mildly overweight. To ignore the cultural "it's your fault" aspect of a more traditionally cohesive European society is... well, c'mon.

Apr. 15 2008 12:21 PM
hjs from 11211

dear jon,
'small socialist countries?' The EU has 500 million people. they cover everyone. (at least 'old Europe' does)
also u can scale everything up as needed. small to big. simple
let's try something new since this system is not working for everyone.
or are you saying the weak should die in the street. how do u make profit on that??

Apr. 15 2008 12:21 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ


Your right, they are not small courtiers. But they are compared to 300 million people living in America. All together they only add up to about 50 million more people then America. Plus with the exception of Canada, land wise, they are all puny compared to America. Logistics has a huge effect on cost and value of care. If America was the size of Texas with 300 million people, you could drastically cut the overall number of clinics and hospitals because the population would be far more condensed. Location, location, location.....

Apr. 15 2008 12:18 PM
doctor d from south bronx

FYI I am one of those "heroic doctors" working as a family physician in the South Bronx.

Apr. 15 2008 12:15 PM


but they are in comparison to almighty america ...they are "small" and "socialist" while we are no.1!

(sarcasm for those of you who might think otherwise)

Apr. 15 2008 12:15 PM


Much easier said than done

I agree also with the statement "you can't take it with you" but not everyone has the luxury of being able to say "I'll just take it easy". It's just not reality. It just ain't that easy!

I do agree with you in principle, but i think it is a cultural issue as well as a lack of a civilized universal healthcare system. But you cannot change the cultural issue by telling individuals "it's your fault"...just won't work. We need a public discussion about the unhealthy attitudes of american culture that contributes to all of this...the same way the green/recycling movement happened. That didn't take hold by saying to the individual "it's all your fault" was more we ALL need to change this...that's how things get done

but this discussion will never be had here because we have a snobbish view that europeans are "socialist" and have so much vacation time because they don't share our work ethic and on and on and on....

We have an increasingly sedentary overworked lifestyle...and it's harder and harder for most of us to break out of it. That's reality

Apr. 15 2008 12:13 PM

#15, JC
You're ignoring the fact that many of the poor people who can't see a doctor when they're sick might very well NOT be sick if it weren't for dizzyingly high rates of diabetes type II and its attendant heart disease. Which is totally preventable. Doh!
Please, please, go work in an American hospital for a while. See the idiocy, the waste, and the denial. See the heroic doctors and nurses exhaust themselves running around treating people who never needed to be there in the first place. Witness yourself thinking: "if people wanted to be heroes, they'd become intensive phys ed teachers. If only the state would hire back the phys ed teachers!" Old ladies these days can outrun the average 18-year-old boy. We've become a sick country.

Apr. 15 2008 12:10 PM
doctor d from south bronx

we need to strengthen primary care and preventative public health sector (community health workers, health educators, etc) as opposed to spending immense resources on high acuity preventable conditionds. i.e. prevent and treat early diabetes/obesity as opposed to spending more resources (human and monetary) when that person (a current patient)has to be hospitalized for a leg amputation, prosthetic, wheelchair, home attendant, and has been referred for gastric bypass surgery for wt loss .
doctor d

great topic thanks for highlighting ths important issue

Apr. 15 2008 12:08 PM
J.C. from Minneapolis

Re: Comment #20

Canada has approx. 30 million people.

The UK has approx. 50 million people.

Germany has approx. 80 million people.

France has approx. 60 million people.

Japan has approx. 127 million people.

These aren't "small" countries.

Apr. 15 2008 12:04 PM
dh from Switzerland

In Switzerland, _basic_ insurance is compulsory, but it is expensive for families and not the least bit comprehensive. In order to have a reasonable monthly premium, one has to choose a very high, prohibitive deductible. Dental is not included. Insurance companies can reject applications for expensive supplemental insurance to cover mental health or other chronic diseases. It's better than in America, but only marginally so.

Apr. 15 2008 12:02 PM
Talia from New Jersey

ab - I don't know anything about the healthcare systems of the other countries you mentioned. I'm only familiar with Canada's since I grew up there and my family lives there.

Jeffrey - you are correct that these are my own views. But they are also the views of every Canadian I know (at least 200 of the 500, Jon P. :))

Apr. 15 2008 12:02 PM

#12, it's both.
The culture won't change until individuals change.
Kids won't change until they have some support from the school systems. Rigorous phys ed. Rigorous nutrition classes.
Meantime, it's our responsibility to find time in the schedule to take care of our own bodies.
Lentils and frozen peas are still relatively cheap. Cheaper (but less convenient) than a big mac, that's for sure.
Overworked? You can't take it with you. Take care of yourself. The govt won't be able to afford it.

Apr. 15 2008 12:01 PM
Protagoras from Tribeca

Nobody ever mentions one of the biggest benefits of government single payer health care:

The gov't has large financial incentives to keep people healthy, pharceuticals better regulated and less exploitive in their pricing, and the environment clean because it has to pay everyone's medical expenses.

It becomes foolhardy to compromise regulation and enforcement on safety, pollution, workplace practises, toxic chemicals, pharmaceutical testing and all those other bad things that the go'vt is currently lax about because we, not it pay the bills.

Apr. 15 2008 11:59 AM
markbnj from www.markbnj/ or

Hey Brian...
Don't cry for me (or the LARGE drug companies...)

Their marketing can go down more then 33%
if they just do R&D and do NO more marketing

Apr. 15 2008 11:59 AM
Tom from Soho

People argue that lower tax rates bring in more revenue because growth is created. If the same argument is made for health care and everyone is covered and encouraged to use the system more wouldn't it make sense that it would become cheaper as it became more universal?

Apr. 15 2008 11:58 AM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

Canada has what, 500 people living in it? USA has 300 million people to insure. There is currently no country in the world that comes close to insuring its entire people. Please stop trying to push planes from small socialist countries. We need to drastically reform insurance, medical, hospital and pharmaceutical before we can even think of doing anything else…. Otherwise nothing will change.

Apr. 15 2008 11:58 AM
Stephen from Manhattan

where was the MRI originally developed? doesn't the US system create medical technology development?

Apr. 15 2008 11:58 AM
Jeffrey Slott from East Elmhurst

It would seem, Talia, that perhaps you are imposing your own views here. There have been far too many Canadians who have posted on this very subject and who have acclaimed their health system over America's.

Apr. 15 2008 11:57 AM

Reid is ignoring the elephant in the room. Why won't he address preventive measures? Rigorous physical education starting in kindergarten and running through high school? Nutrition education starting in preschool? Creating space in American cities and suburbs where people can actually WALK?
The majority of Americans are as much in denial about their own complicity in the health care disaster as they are about their own complicity in Iraq. We insist on believing that we're always the victims...

Apr. 15 2008 11:57 AM


Do the citizens of other countries with universal healthcare "hate" their system? Do the Japanese? Are all these systems exactly the same?

Apr. 15 2008 11:57 AM
J.C. from Minneapolis

Yes, eva's comments on preventive care are well-taken (though I will say that as '90s high schol graduate, "healthy eating" education is there, but you have to accept the fact that people aren't just going to eat right always), but let's not delude ourselves into thinking that if we stopped all diabetes cases, then our gov't would be loaded with cash (which seems to be the point of her comments). In fact, this strikes me as the same line politicians have been feeding us for a long time, viz. that if we just got rid of the "waste," government coffers would be overflowing. But that's a lie.

God help us if we think that if we just got rid of the "waste," our health care problems would be "solved." The money "saved" won't be a panacea (though, yes, we should still try to save it). The moral outrage of not being able to see a doctor if you're poor and without employer-provided medical insurance is STILL going to be there.

Apr. 15 2008 11:57 AM
veronica from manhattan

We can debate what a good health care system would be for this country, "socialist" or not till the cows come home. Nothing will be really remedied however, until Big Pharma and the insurance lobbiests loosen their cords and hooks on our current gov't. They profit more if the public is sick.

Apr. 15 2008 11:57 AM
heather from manhattan

I am an American who has lived in the UK and Switzerland. The Swiss healthcare is the best! And is a great model!

The Swiss healthcare is wonderful. And all the doctors have the equipment in thier offices to provide blood tests, ultra-sounds, and most prescriptions.

Apr. 15 2008 11:57 AM


The problem with this argument is that we are so overworked and have such little time and healthier food for some people is cost prohibitive in some cases or not as available or both. It's not just responsibility on the individual but also changing our increasingly overworked,increasingly sedentary, exploitative culture.

Apr. 15 2008 11:55 AM
Talia from New Jersey

as a dual Canadian/American citizen, I can tell you that Canadians hate their health system and are always idealizing the medical system of the United States. The wait times for even simple tests are horrendously long. People wish they could pay for those tests rather than wait 3 months, 6 months, a year.

Apr. 15 2008 11:53 AM

State of California is spending over 20 billion a year (that's Billion) on overweight/obesity related illness.
None of the politicians (except Bloomberg in NY) will address the issue of individual responsibility for maintenance of the health of the health care system. It's a two-way street. Maybe it's not politically correct to say this, but it needs to be said. If you could eliminate 75% of the overweight/obesity related illness, you'd have the chance to wrest control of the health care system away from insurers and big pharma.
(Not to mention that it's cruel and unethical NOT to educate people on how to avoid obesity.)

Apr. 15 2008 11:48 AM

What kills me is the fact that, by failing to support simple, inexpensive preventive healthcare issues such as nutrition and exercise, we are damning generations of Americans to costly diseases that are bankrupting the current healthcare system. Is that ethical?
Let's, for the moment, forget the $3 trillion Iraq fiasco. As if that were possible. You still have to deal with the exigencies of the current health care system, which throws a blankload of money at the body only at the point when the body is sick. It's like waiting for the car to be totaled before you take it in for a tuneup. Before we start talking about France again, can we at least acknowledge that the WHO stats for DiaT2 are sig. lower in France? That Japan is a much more homogeneous population? That the issues of consumption/overweight/obesity matters?

Apr. 15 2008 11:24 AM
Robert from NYC

You see, there we (you, not all of you but most of you) have been brainwashed to believe that govt involvement in healthcare is socialism and therefore not good because the USSR was socialist and ... well I'm being ironic and over simple here but fact is that is the response from most right-leaning folks (majority of USA and those talking heads on CNN and elsewhere) and they just don't get it, that the only real money for good healthcare can only come from the govt and not the free trade market where the bottom line is the bottom line! You see our friends in Europe and Canada have socialized medicine, it works, it has problems, they work to overcome the problems, one should always be on top of whatever the endeavor. Is my morse code speak here making the point?! I don't have 20 pages. Wake up this doesn't make us Communists.

Apr. 15 2008 11:17 AM
Alex from Brooklyn

Frontline proved with its recent puff piece on the Iraq war that it no longer has the guts to produce challenging journalism. Will its look at health care offer any insight or incisive questioning at all?

Apr. 15 2008 10:29 AM
hjs from 11211

there are no leaders in our country. we have lost our vision, we don't do longterm planning. change at this point is not likely.

the ship is sinking. every man for himself.

Apr. 15 2008 10:26 AM
michael winslow from INWOOD

How about PULL out of Iraq and use the money to create the finest health care system in the world.

This makes sense.

Never happen though because people are under the dislusion they are in more danger of dying in a terrorist attack than dying in a car crash.

Apr. 15 2008 10:05 AM

Another thing I hope they discuss is WHY and HOW these countries decided to provide universal health care- (seems like a basic sort of discussion, but I don't believe it's a question many ask) I think Dr. Herzlinger in her book Who Killed Healthcare posits that US HMOs were created not to provide healthcare but to boost the economy... so it may not be a mere matter of feasibility.

Apr. 15 2008 07:55 AM
Marc Naimark from Paris

Just a note from France, where the government announced yesterday that optical goods would no longer be covered by social security (public health insurance). I'm not at all sure how much this would save, since reimbursements for glasses and contact lenses generally represent a tiny proportion of their real cost... In any case, another chip in the system that many Americans see as a model, but that is under strong attack by the current government.

Apr. 15 2008 06:37 AM

I heard TR Reid's separate report on "All Things Considered". He skimmed over "diet and lifestyle" in documenting Japanese longevity, but didn't link diet/exercise to lower costs for Japan's health care system. A more active population with a sound diet = less Type II diabetes draining money out of the health care system. Bear in mind that Type II diabetes leads to other, costly-to-treat and more serious complications.
Why does media ignore this? I ran into Paul Krugman last winter in SF, and asked him why he didn't address the issue of prevention when he wrote about health care. He immediately said it was the fault of the drug companies/insurers. WHAT? Look, states are going broke paying for a disease that could be prevented with an agressive phys ed and nutrition ed program in the public schools. Meanwhile, people with non-preventable illnesses get lesser treatment because of overweight/obesity treatment overload. Big pharma shouldn't be able to stop us from giving kids good nutrition in the schools and teaching rigorous phys ed to combat the Type 2 implosion. It's cheaper than treating the disease and its complications.

Apr. 15 2008 01:45 AM
j from nyc

viruses, bacteria and parasites don't care about politics, religion, state borders, etc..[think, bird flu!!], so why is it that the management geniuses at healthcare America can't appreciate this reality?
especially in the event of a bioterror attack- seriously, does anybody's HMO cover antrax?

also, if we had standardized healthcare [not socialized, mind you] based on prevention so no one is denied BASIC service, for initial baseline checkups 1x or 2x a year, plus dental, and left the private companies to pick up the specialized stuff, we could have and easier time with all of the patterns of disease earlier on. With 'standardized healthcare, dr's and nurses wouldn't have to fill out multiple forms about the same thing in one healthcare system that's called a slightly-different-thing in another healthcare system. there's some $'s saved right there.

Apr. 15 2008 01:32 AM

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