Here’s an effective, efficient and efficacious Rx for understanding options for health reform: watch the PBS presentation of Frontline’s Sick Around the World. You can watch the video or download a podcast. Here’s the transcript from a roundtable hosted by Kaiser Family Foundation featuring TR Reid, the producer of the program, along with Uwe Reinhardt and Tsung-Mei Cheng as respondents to the documentary.

TR Reid of the Washington Post has been a Kaiser Fellow over the past year. He’s created what hasn’t been seen before: in a short sixty minutes, an engaging, informative comparison of health systems that’s clear and thought-provoking without being preachy.

Reid visits five countries whose health financing is based on universal health care. We travel through the health systems of Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom, and learn that costs of covering their nations en toto are lower than those in the U.S. — with better quality and outcomes.

No system is perfect, and you’ll hear a bit about the warts in each of the systems.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: Reid has shown that universal health care does not have to mean socialized medicine. Reid’s research found that there are a few building blocks crucial to universal coverage in these systems: mandatory coverage, meaning that all citizens must be covered by the plan(s) and fixed prices to health providers are among the factors shared by these health systems.
Reinhardt sums it up well: “So you need very good government regulation but you should use private market forces and they all do. Germany has a reform doing exactly that right now. Don’t succumb to clichés which are your thinking apparatus when it comes to health policy. Don’t confuse social insurance with social, socialized medicine. They’re two different things.”

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