Four in five Americans say the U.S. health-care system needs “fundamental” change. Can the U.S. learn anything from the rest of the world about how to run a health-care system, or are these nations so culturally different from us that their solutions would simply not be acceptable to Americans? FRONTLINE correspondent T.R. Reid examines first-hand the health-care systems of other advanced capitalist democracies — UK, Germany, Switzerland, Japan, and Taiwan — to see what tried and tested ideas might help us reform our broken health-care system.

This PBS Frontline’s T.R. Reid investigates healthcare systems in five modern developed countries. There are lessons to be learned from England, Japan, Germany, Taiwan, and Switzerland.

Taiwan developed their modern healthcare system in 1995 by studying 10-15 countries. Taiwan wanted a system that gave access to healthcare to everyone (not un-affordable to tens of millions like the U.S.), gave people a choice of doctors with no waiting times (not having most be inaccessible due to the structure of private insurer networks), and one that encouraged competition among medical providers.

Switzerland had a system similar to the U.S. in 1994, with healthcare tied to employment. In 1996, a referendum was held and they passed the Swiss Federal Health Insurance Act of 1994. Switzerland now has guaranteed comprehensive medical treatment to all its residents and healthcare is no longer tied to employment.

Bankruptcy due to medical expenses is unheard of in these countries. Overall rates of satisfaction with healthcare among the populations run high.

The United States is the wealthiest country on earth, but the only aspects of it’s healthcare system that compares to the superior systems of some of these other countries is the Medicare system and the Veterans Administration. Nearly 30 million lack healthcare coverage and 70 million are under-insured.

PANA supports the call to expand Medicare and eliminate the monopolistic control of private insurers over most of the healthcare delivery and administrative system. We hope you will do the same:


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