Sick Around the World

With the U.S. health care system needing urgent care, “Frontline” looks to other leading capitalist democracies to see how their health care systems operate and whether those systems might be a model for much-needed reform at home. But are Americans willing to accept taxation or socialized medicine? Will U.S. insurance providers undermine change? Four in five Americans say the U.S. health-care system needs “fundamental” change. Can the U.S. learn anything from the rest of the world about how to run a health-care system, or are these nations so culturally different from us that their solutions would simply not be acceptable to Americans? Frontline correspondent T.R. Reid examines first-hand the health-care systems of other advanced capitalist democracies — UK, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and Taiwan — to see what tried and tested ideas might help us reform our broken health-care system. The show visits these other major countries and finds out how their healthcare systems work, how the doctors like it, and how the citizens like it. Taken into consideration are four basic issues in each system: 1. essential structure of the system – wait times, cost to patients, quality of care, etc, 2. what each country’s citizens think about their system, 3. a look at how each is funded, 4. how medical professionals both in the U.S. and in each respective country view the systems’ effectiveness. Finally, there is a discussion on how well, if at all, these systems could be implemented here in the states. This was a very worthwhile hour – and entertaining. This presentation is an excellent way of providing the average US citizen with a better understanding of the world universal health care systems. I am a registered nurse. I grew up in Canada using the health care system. I studied nursing in Canada and practiced for five years in a hospital in critical care. I then moved to the United Kingdom and worked for three years in a private hospital, followed by another three years in a public socialized hospital system. I have since moved to the United States of America and worked in two of the largest hospitals in Atlanta, Georgia. So, to summarize, I have lived and used health care services in each of these countries, as a patient. I have also worked professionally as a registered nurse in all three systems. I can honestly say that the universal health care systems are far superior, and lead to less suffering for those who are ill. I applaud the work that was put in to this film. Ultimately it helps to shed light on the failure of the current failing health care system in the US. It would be best if we could take the examples of success from other countries and apply them here in providing universal services. I always have said that the US has the potential to have the best health care system in the world. I liked this documentary. It was easy to follow and it seems that the problems we are facing in our health care system are because of the same problem we have in other areas of our nation. There was one question, though, that came to my mind which was insufficiently addressed. In those countries where private insurance companies provide the insurance, and where their profits are limited, why then do these companies persist? What is their motivation, if not profit? Our country could never get used to a doctor working for a flat fee, or a hospital operating as a non-profit business. The drug companies aren’t going to allow anyone to change their powerful grip they have on health care. Their lobbyist control people in congress and it’s that common thread we hear time and time again. Corporate greed. There are too many rich people that will never allow for change in this country for the good of the people. Too much money to be made. Greed Greed Greed This documentary ought to be required viewing of all those participating in the healthcare debate in our own country, especially as our system is so very deficient in each and every respect. Documentary Frontline 2008 NR 60 minutes.



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