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Health Systems Abroad Offer Lessons for U.S. Reform Plan

As part of the NewsHour's series of conversations about health care reform, Betty Ann Bowser talks to Washington Post correspondent T.R. Reid, author of a new book about health care systems around the world and what the U.S. can learn from them.

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    And now a conversation about health care reform.

    As the debate in this country continues, health correspondent Betty Ann Bowser talked to writer T.R. Reid about what we might learn from the experience of others.


    Breathe. OK, I'm going to check your lungs.


    The search for successful health care reform has taken many shapes. Embattled lawmakers have crunched numbers, studied business models, and researched payment options. But one prominent journalist thinks he's found a better way to achieve affordable high-quality health care in America, by looking outside the nation's borders.

    In a new book and a 2008 PBS "Frontline" documentary, T.R. Reid, a correspondent for The Washington Post, reports on national health systems in other industrialized countries. Some are government-run. Some rely on private insurance companies, but all have one thing in common. Almost everybody gets covered.

    The "NewsHour" spoke with him as part of our ongoing series on health care reform.

    First of all, thank you for being with us.

  • T.R. REID:

    I love your show. I am delighted to be on it.


    So, let's begin with what other industrialized countries do. What do they do about health care?

  • T.R. REID:

    Well, all the other countries manage to cover everybody with high quality and spend half as much as we do. And I was trying to figure out, how do they do that?

    You know, in Germany, you can pick any one of 200 health insurance plans. If you don't like your plan, you can switch to the other guy, with no increase in premium. How do they do that?

    I went to this hospital in Canada, 800 beds. The billing office is two part-timers. How do they do that?BETTY ANN BOWSER: Well, how do they?