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The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care

“Superb...I would urge Penguin Press to sprinkle advance copies liberally throughout Congress, the White House, and the Health and Human Services department.”

–Timothy Noah, Slate

“Reid dispels the common fears about ‘socialized medicine,’ waiting lists, and other myths disseminated by the lobbyists and politicians with a stake in the status quo. Here, we get a clear picture of why we have a moral imperative to implement a heath-care system for all Americans.”

The World Health Organization rated the national health care systems of 191 countries in terms of “fairness,” the United States ranked fifty-fourth. That put us slightly ahead of Chad and Rwanda but just behind Bangladesh and the Maldives. How is it that all the other industrialized democracies provide health care for everyone at a reasonable cost, something the United States has never managed to do? In The Healing of America, New York Times bestselling author T.R. Reid shows how they do it, bringing to bear his talent for explaining complex issues in a clear, engaging way.

In his global quest to find a possible prescription for our ailing system, Reid visits wealthy industrialized free-market democracies like our own—including France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and Canada—where he finds inspiration in example. Reid shares evidence from doctors, government officials, health care experts, and patients the world over, finding that foreign health care systems often provide more choice and shorter waiting times than the United States. And that dreaded monster “socialized medicine” turns out to be a myth. Many developed countries provide universal coverage with private doctors, private hospitals, and private insurance plans—insurers that accept every applicant and never deny a claim.

In addition to long-established systems, Reid also studies countries that have carried out major health care reform. The first question facing these countries—and the United States, for that matter—is an ethical issue: Is health care a human right? Most countries have already answered with a resolute yes, leaving the United States in a murky moral backwater with nations we typically think of as far less just than our own.

The Healing of America lays bare the moral question at the heart of our troubled system, dissecting the misleading rhetoric surrounding the health care debate. Of course, every health care system has its troubles: Reid finds poorly paid doctors in Japan, endless lines in Canada, mistreated patients in Britain, Spartan facilities in France. Yet all of them cover everybody, produce better health results, and spend far less than the United States. And none leaves its citizens one diagnosis away from financial ruin. Bringing hope to one of our thorniest domestic issues, T.R. Reid uncovers the international models that could work at home as we set out to cure a health care system that has failed us.