Matthew Holt

Interview: TR Reid on healthcare reform around the world

TR Reid is a former foreign correspondent with the Washington Post. He spent two years (partly funded by the Kaiser Family Foundation) looking at health care systems across the world and has been featured heavily in many media venues lately asking the simple question, if everywhere else can cover everyone at half the cost, how do they do it?  I had a great and not too long interview with him last week.

His book is called The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care and here's an interview he did as part of Frontline's Sick Around The World.

Funnily enough I'm posting this from Barcelona, Spain where hopefully I won't have to use the healthcare system unless I get carried away with the late night Sangria…

12 replies »

  1. DO you still have the paper? I am looking for some older data to compare with todays data.

  2. It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post and if I could I wish to suggest you some interesting things or suggestions. Maybe you could write next articles referring to this article. I desire to read even more things about it!|

  3. Am enjoying Mr Reid’s thought provoking “The Healing of America”. On page 18 he states that in the VA system patients receive no bills. Veterans more often than not receive bills for their care. E.g., they are charged $50 for a visit in a specialty clinic. Also they are billed $8 for a month’s supply of each medication they receive.

  4. Thanks, TR Reid.. American may actually grow to be the moral country it pretends to be by assuring nobody dies or loses almost everything because they don’t have health care.
    God Bless you, Mr. Reid!

  5. Healthcare systems certainly reflect national character. Canadians are willing to queue up for elective surgery as long as both rich and poor have the same wait times. Americans, by contrast, hate the thought of anyone getting anything they haven’t earned by hard work. Unlike Canadians, we didn’t inherit a distaste for the class system with all its inequalities. We ignore upper class wealth and privilege turning the rich into Horatio Alger’s and the poor into lazy bums. Steven Peter’s comments neatly reflect that aspect of our character.

  6. Why not have a National sales tax and enroll every citizen in a basic health insurance plan like Medicare? Those who want better coverage can buy it in the market place and it will be less expensive than their current coverge due to the new first layer of basic health insurance. Those that do not have insurance now will be covered, but will have to pay something for their coverage whenever they buy something. A sales tax will tax the underground economy, including illeagal aliens and drug lords. We all buy food, cloting, etc. Why shouldn’t we all buy health insurance. The tax is proportionate to spending and much fairer than an income tax. The problem with Congress is that someone is always looking for a way for someone else to pay for their benefit. But with a National sales tax we all pay and all have a vested interest in the outcome. We can solve the problem as citizens together by simply adopting a basic benefit for which everyone pays something. We can even increase transfer payments by the percentage tax so that the truly needy on welfare, food stamps, unemployment, etc. have the same ability to afford to pay the tax. I have a paper on this for anyone interested.

  7. I never know that every other industrialized nation with a Bizmark healthcare model had non-profit insurance companies and that our system takes 20 cents for every dollar on administration fees. We aught to adopt the Swiss model (maybe the Swiss aren’t capitalistic enough for some though.)
    There is something unethical about companies that profit from money paid them to provide care for people. (I am not talking about the people that work there, I am talking about the profit for wall-street)
    @Steven Peters-
    Sorry to get off topic. I read your blog. Your nutty as a fruitcake.
    @Propensity – Please offer your analysis and insight regarding the ‘root cause’.

  8. Any government run, tax supported health care scheme exists by extorting the earnings of some residents of the nation to provide for others. Taking that money is just plain wrong!
    If you are personally committed to paying for someone else’s health care, feel free to contribute to the charity of your choice.
    If you are personally committed to my paying for your health care, and using government as the intermediary to take what I earn to do it, go straight to Hell!

  9. If Germany, Canada, the UK, Japan, France and Switzerland can provide universal health care to their citizens, all with a different models, but all with lower costs, good client satisfaction and with better health outcomes, surely we can too. Shame, shame on us if we cannot!!

  10. I just read Reid’s book over the past couple days and highly recommend it. True — it doesn’t cover every detail, nor answer every question. I wouldn’t expect a 260 page book on world-wide health care to explain everything.
    But Reid’s information about how other health care systems work is invaluable. And I agree with his core message: First, US must come to the consensus that everyone must have access to quality, affordable health care. I hope the President pounds that message home tonight.

  11. I am fascinated by what the Frontline/PBS Documentary reports on health care delivery and costs in other nations. As a Registered Nurse, I have significant interest in learning about ways in which we can improve health care in our nation.
    I’m not a political person, nor do I find the “talk on the street” valuable, however what I do find interesting is that according to this documentary, health care in other countries is reported to be as good as or better than what is received in the U.S. – and at a lower cost (as a measure of GDP). If you’re interested, you can watch the T.R. Reid and the PBS/Frontline Documentary online at