Sick Around the World

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What did you find interesting in T.R. Reid's travels to these five countries? Are there lessons we can learn from them that would help us fix America's health care system?


Thank you FRONTLINE. The information in ongoing medical journal commentary (such as the New England Journal of Medicine) supports virtually every observation reported in this excellent high level review of 'sick care around the world'. Therefore I found this credible, easy to understand and only hope some of our reluctant Congressional types tuned in. As a physician I can say that in my limited sphere my colleagues and I would welcome universal coverage at a reasonable price no matter how we get there!I wish we could do what the Swiss did and put it all to a referendum.

Jim Liljestrand
Concord, Massachusetts


As I watched, I was amazed at the amount of misinformation that has been given to the American public regarding our healthcare being the best in the world. In fact, the amount of propaganda that has been fed to Americans. We need truthul reporting regarding this issue. We are going to embark or something completely new to us, but ultimately a program that will be best for all of us. Not perfect, but one that can serve all the people. People need to understand that quality of our care does not have to be negatively affected.

Laurie Holcomb
Norcross, GA


I thought this was an excellent well balance look at successful health care systems around the world. It makes so much sense. Why should there ever be anyone who cannot get health care in our rich country, and why should anyone have to go bankrupt because of medical bills. It seems a basic right. I believe if this show were aired as often as the "doo wap" shows, we might have a consensus about what we should do about our health care tragedy here in the U.S. We need to learn from other nations. It's embarrassing how far down on the "list" of excellent health care providers we are. This was an excellent program. Please give it more air time. !

San Diego, CA


Dear Sir:

I enjoyed your show. However, I would like to make the following remarks:

1) I cannot believe that Canada was not included in your comparative analysis of various health care system; I find this very strange. Our system is very similar to the U.K.'s.

2) Regarding Switzerland-I know enough about their health care system given that my parents lived there for 45 years. I must say that the U.S. system is better than the Swiss providing you are over 65, i.e. the U.S. has at least Medicare which the Swiss don't have. My mother was paying about $750/month at 88 years of age with zero help from the State!

3) Let me offer a solution for the U.S. health care system:Put everybody on Medicare but make people under 65 pay accordng to their income. There is no point designing a new system given that the infrastructure(for Medicare)already exists although it would have to be expanded to accommodate the entire population.

Keep up with your good reporting.

Edward Arakelian
Toronto, CANADA


I felt disappointment after watching this episode. I value Frontline as an objective source of news, and appreciate the wide ranging views often offered by Frontline. After watching this show, I cannot help but feel it was advocating for the nationalization of US Healthcare. The show largely trumped the successes of other countries have had without exploring the negatives. Very little was devoted to the budget constraints of these government funded systems, even less exploration of the hospitals of Taiwan facing bankruptcy, or the demonstrations of doctors in Germany feeling under appreciated and underpaid. TR Reid's conclusion were always based on un-cited surveys, or hokey interviews with patrons at a tavern, or the government official from the political party that supported the change. I applaud Frontline's efforts to seek out the success and failures other countries have had as we surely need reform in this country, however, I failed to see the objectivity in the reporting.

Jeff Dahlen
Bloomington, MN


I think the piece was slanted in that it ignored several downside to universal coverage key points:

Japan 50% of hospitals running at deficits that are unsustainable (why is this system considered as an viable option?).

Britain current system viewed as unsustainable (why is this system considered as an viable option?):

Can the US with a military budget in excess of the spotlighted countries afford the same level of health care as those countries (we are paying for the security of their way of life)?

SO I would view the FrontLine piece as a good starting point into the debate but not exactly comprehensive in its tackling of some glaring issue into the subject matter.

James Taylor
Dallas, TX


A very good show for as far as it went. It did not mention tort reform, defensive medicine, fraud, invalid care or what they do for non citizens. The USA should fix these things first and then the problem will be well on its way to being solved!

Additionally, as doctors and hospitals are not being "paid" enough, who will be the doctors in the future to spend so many years in preparation, certainly not the brightest and best.

Darlene Miller R.N.
Lower Burrell, PA. USA


I've lived in three countries with functioning state health care systems including the UK which is addressed in the documentary. Most critics of health care reform have never directly experienced it and are fundamentally uninformed!

America needs to wake up to prevent right-wing myopia from blocking progressive action. National wealth does not equal national health if there's no organized system of care. The consequences of failure are incalculable.

Mike Alleyne
Murfreesboro, TN


Unfortunately, a remarkably shallow and depressing program due to its fundamental misunderstanding of economic and medical realities. What makes T.R. Reid think he can, or should, get the best health care for a cheap price? Is the best education cheap? The best research? What makes him think the medical profession is his or this government's to control? If he admires European health care so much, he should live there and not here. If he wants us to become more European, he should realize that we will be less American, and the world will be less fortunate for that.

Camp Hill, PA


I enjoyed your show and learned a lot about health care in other countries, but you blew your credibility in the open segment on the UK system. We lived in the UK for a number of years in villages outside London. In those villages I never once saw a single one doctor practice. We were serviced by clinics called surgeries in the UK. They run much like our state motor vehicles departments. When you went in you were given a number and when your number came up on the tote board you were directed to a numbered room with a doctor sitting behind a desk. He asked you for your symptoms and without touching you or checking your temperature or blood pressure would whip out a prescription and send you on your way. You also failed to point out that every working person in the UK pays ten percent of their wage for national health care and that most Brits carry a supplemental policy to allow them to have specialist care and private or semi-private rooms in hospital rather than wards with six to ten patients. These are just a few of the shortcomings of your news piece. Sorry to be a critic, but I really like to see all sides of a story. It was apparent to me that you took on this task with an agenda.

Lloyd Ault
Palm Desert, CA


Great show. It is something everyone in America should see and needs to be aired on more than PBS. It's time for America to get it together and finally join the rest of the first world nations in the understanding that health care is a basic need. Good luck to your need it. From a Canadian with health care.

Jane Law
Gabriola, BC, Canada


Excellent show! I think T. R. Reid's interviews illustrated possibilities for the United States, and politicians should talk and look favorably on foreign models. My favorite was Switzerland, and its health care system seemed as if it could work well here.

Santa Monica, California


My husband and I had to return to Canada to recieve medical care. In 1985 I was in a bad fall and over the next 20 years I had numerous hospital stays,surgeries and treatments. Even with great insurance we lost everything.Life time caps, pre-existing conditions wiped us out.My husband was one of the original employees at AVIA Footwear as well as jobs as an president of major footwear companies in the US, we were doing very well.At one point my husband lost his job and we moved in with our daughter in Santa Barbara,California.It was the only way to keep her in college and be able to support her. While there my husband had a quaduple heart bybass.With me at that point being paid by the hour and the provider of health insurance if I missed as much as 1/2 hour per month insurance was cut off with no warning.The sleepness nights and stress it caused I begged my husband for us to return to Canada.Both our birthplaces.Yes, there is some problems with the Canadian system,but overall the care we have gotten has been fantastic. Cat scans,X-Rays,emergency visits are less if not the same of a wait than the US.SLEEPNESS NIGHTS AND STRESS ARE FINALLY IN THE PAST.

sue macgregor
vancouver, bc


Thank you so much for airing T.R. Reid's "Sick Around the World" again this evening (11/10/09) During the last airing in mid-April I was hospitalized and missed it. It was so refreshing to hear medical professionals, like the doctor in Switzerland, state that providing health care is considered a moral obligation. We truly are in the stone age in the U.S., and the cost can be counted in bodies in a hidden war here at home. I was recently granted permanent disability by Social Security for multiple spinal injuries that have left me unable to do the work I've done for 30 years as a legal professional. I was indeed grateful to be granted disability, but then gutted when I learned that no health care will be available to me for over 2 years until I am eligible for Medicare. How can the government determine that you are disabled, and then that same government deny access to affordable health care to treat your disability?? The mind reels. Thank you, Frontline, for allowing me to share my bit. And a huge thank you to T.R. Reid for his excellent story. Now I'm going to buy his book!

Carol Chesney
Fort Collins, CO


Dear Senators who watch intelligent television: Thank you for understanding that THIS IS WHAT AMERICANS WANT AND NEED! I pick the German model, or the Taiwan model, or the Swiss model, or the Japanese model, or the .... any other "model" except America's. Personally, I'm waiting for the health insurance company, with whom I have "invested" $27,000 in premiums, to drop me, because now, for the first time, I will use the services. Since I am self-employed, no doubt my $27,000 "investment" will pay for very little. I have a friend who had insurance, had an operation, and then the insurance company refused to pay, so he went bankrupt (having lost his job due to an illness), and is now close to homeless (he was an engineer). We can go to the polls, we can take our resources out of this country, we can ask nicely for single payor health care as a matter of moral justice for all Americans.

Will "for the people, by the people" be honored in the Senate? I'm not too sure; but I can always hope!

Corrales, NM


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posted april 15, 2008

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