Objective, Succinct Resources on Healthcare Around the World?
July 10, 2009 6:38 AM   Subscribe

Thoughtful, analytical, objective resources (web and book) on what works and what doesn't in healthcare / health insurance systems around the world?

With the current debate going on in the US, I figure I'll get myself a little more educated on this subject. Please note IANAA (I am not an academic).

Extra points for resources that are succinct and to the point.
posted by ZenMasterThis to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Matthew Yglesias has had a lot of good posts about the current legislative debate that have also contained comparison to the rest of the world.
posted by OmieWise at 7:00 AM on July 10, 2009

Best answer: This Frontline documentary -- you can watch the entire thing online -- examines the healthcare systems of several countries and compares their pros and cons. Being a documentary, it is, of course, long, but it's succinct and easy to follow. I found it a lot more enjoyable than the articles I've read on the subject.
posted by Nattie at 7:03 AM on July 10, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks, those look good. Anything more to the center politically?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:15 AM on July 10, 2009

Best answer: I really liked this comparison of the political processes that lead to universal health care systems in different countries around the world by Atul Gawande that appeared in the New Yorker a few months back, as well as his follow up piece about the widely varing costs of health care within the US from last month.

And apparently someone slightly more important than me liked it too...
posted by dyslexictraveler at 7:22 AM on July 10, 2009

Response by poster: Okay, so far we've got three more or less left-of-center (all excellent, BTW). Any middle or right?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:55 AM on July 10, 2009

Best answer: Ezra Klein blogs frequently (and, I think, very well) about healthcare policy. Definitely still left-of-center, though.
posted by dizziest at 9:46 AM on July 10, 2009

Best answer: Nthing the above Frontline link, it is a great succinct rundown. T.R. Reid, the reporter in the Frontline special, wrote a book about the subject (not yet published). BTW, here is an intersting story about how he was not exactly included in the follow-up "Sick Around America" episode.

For continued coverage, he people to follow on this, IMHO, are Ezra Klein and Jon Cohn (both from the left).
posted by Hypnotic Chick at 9:47 AM on July 10, 2009

Best answer: Any middle or right?

That's the wrong way to look at it. There are some basic facts here: the US spends substantially more per capita than comparable industrialised nations, without universal coverage, and without substantially improved health outcomes. The right-wing position is that there's not really much wrong with this, because it is accompanied by the best healthcare in the world for those who can afford it.

You'll find healthcare policy critiques at Cato and Heritage and the AEI, often arguing for deregulation and making the cost of treatment more transparent for "health consumers", to encourage market competition and discourage over-use. Those critiques are built upon inward-looking ideological arguments, as opposed to "what works and doesn't work abroad", in part because the US approach to healthcare, to put it as neutrally as possible, is sufficiently idiosyncratic to serve as a model for no-one else.

You'll get some libertarian economic critiques from Marginal Revolution, but Tyler Cowen and his colleagues are again quite introspective, in that they place reform in the context of overall entitlement spending within the US.

In practice, the American right's treatment of foreign healthcare systems falls into a few categories: argument from anecdote -- usually scare stories from Canada or the UK, which are strawman examples in the current debate -- "let's pretend they don't exist" or "but Americans are fat/eat junk food/drive everywhere".
posted by holgate at 9:57 AM on July 10, 2009

Best answer: I took a course in Comparative Healthcare Systems as part of my MPH program. Our textbook was quite good, and seemed objective:

Laurene Graig, Health of Nations, 3rd ed., (Washington: Congressional Quarterly Press), available from Amazon or the CQP website.

Countries covered include the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, and Japan. I found it very enlightening.
posted by acridrabbit at 10:12 AM on July 10, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:24 AM on July 10, 2009

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