Sunday, August 30, 2009

Five myths about health care around the world

Okay, it's been an entire week since reporter T. R. Reid, published an interesting article, "Five myths about health care around the world," in the Washington Post (Sunday, August 23, 2009). If offer this link, because our readers may find it useful in debunking the next wild statement they hear about healthcare in foreign countries.

Myth #1. It's all socialized medicine out there. Nope. Only a few Anglo countries, and Cuba. And what about Medicare and the Veterans Administration?

Myth #2. Overseas, care is rationed through limited choices or long lines. Nope. In Japan people don't even bother with appointments.

Myth #3. Foreign health care systems are inefficient, bloated bureaucracies. Not unless you put our system at the top of the list.

Myth #4. Cost controls stifle innovation. And so that would explain French hip and knee replacements? Canadian deep brain stimulation for depression? Wonder drugs from labs in Britain, Switzerland, and Japan?

Myth #5. Health insurance has to be cruel. It's a business! Hm. The last time I looked into this, when I was in law school, the social purpose of insurance was to spread risk, not make money for insurers.

Reid concludes his article with a thought that echoes my own, "Given our remarkable medical assets--the best-educated doctors and nurses, the most advanced hosptials, world-class research--the United States could be, and should be, the best in the world. To get there, though, we have to be willing to learn some lessons about health-care administration from the other industrialized democracies."

Tom Jackson
Principal, Rona Consulting Group
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Washington School of Public Health

1 comment:

Mark Graban said...

Citing Japan doesn't dispel "Myth" #2. There's a lot of waiting in Canada and the UK.