The Healing Of America by T R Reid

I listened to T R Reid talk about this book on NPR as I drove back from the panhandle last Monday. He seemed a pretty interesting person and had a folksy engaging style that focused on healthcare systems around the world. In essence what he said was the main element that prevents the US from having affordable healthcare is profit. Almost the entire non-government run system is profit driven. When you think about it, our healthcare reflects our national culture’s history…..The business of America is now, and always has been, business. No other industrialized nation has the profit issue in their system and no one else has the mal practice premiums our doctors have to carry. In most other countries doctors education is free, hospitals don’t make profits and neither do private insurance companies. But there is a more basic issue that screams to be addressed which I will come to presently.


I read the book, it was not as engaging as his interview, I was looking to find answers and proposals, and instead what I found was comparative analysis, which gets more than a little boring. It is sometimes interesting what some countries have in place. France for example, has a medical ID Card that carries all individual medical records on it. A patient walks in and hands the card to a doctor who puts it in a scanner and the entire medical history is available…….the carte vitale vastly reduces administrative overhead and costs.


Overall the book is too rambling and not graphic enough to use as good concise data. Reid does hit on what I think is the fundamental disconnect with our national debate which is to say that the debate is putting the cart before the horse. In all other democratic industrialized nations, before enacting whichever form of universal coverage they have now, they had a national debate on the ethics of healthcare. He concludes in chapter 12 The First Question…..”What are our basic ethical values? Do we believe that every American has a right to health care when he needs it? After that question is resolved we can move on to designing a health care system that works for all Americans. When we get to that stage we can draw on a world of ideas and experience—–all the lessons we’ve learned from health care systems in other industrialized democracies.”


I agree. To effect universal change there must be consensus from the people, clearly we don’t have that today.


Here is another review for consideration.