Major Surgery Indicated

On September 11, 2010, 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’s from the opening chapter of “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, And Fairer Health Care,” T.R. Reid’s eye-opening and eminently readable account of his study of the health care systems in France, Germany, Japan, the U.K., and Canada (with stops along the way in India, Switzerland, Taiwan, and even Cuba). Reid shows that in every developed nation except the U.S., the decision about a health care system begins with a moral question: Does every person have an equal right to health care when they need it? Every developed nation except the U.S. has answered “yes.” Among developed nations, only the United States has a system in which insurers answer to shareholders and so, in order to increase profits, deny or refuse coverage.

Now, don’t go thinking this is a knee-jerk liberal, leftist, socialist rant; it most decidedly is not. It’s a measured, well-researched, thoughtful look at how we might heal a system that is unwell: bloated, expensive, inefficient, unfair, drowning in paperwork. And as Reid discovers during his odyssey through numerous continue reading