What did I learn from the novel and the PBS videos?
Both the novel and the documentary film has been full of relevant information for me. I learnt different things from the two different media. The novel The Eleventh Hour is a unique mélange of fact and fiction. That it presents details pertaining to the American healthcare system in the form of an engaging story made it easy for me to focus and keep track. As the drama of the story unfolded I was able to pick up facts about the healthcare system that were erstwhile unknown to me.
Sick Around the World, on the other hand, offered me a comparative perspective on several leading healthcare systems. I was astounded that countries which are less economically powerful than the United States offer a better healthcare deal to their citizens. The five countries studied by the PBS documentary crew – Germany, United Kingdom, Japan, Taiwan and Switzerland – all have cheaper average per capita healthcare costs. More impressively they also produce better health outcomes and near universal coverage of health services. In all these countries, the connecting theme seems to be ‘socialized medicine’, where, profit motive is largely removed from the health industry. It is a noble stance indeed to accord such dignity to healthcare. These health systems expose all that is wrong with the American health delivery model.
Why does it matter to me?
The content of both the sources of information matter a great deal to me. As an aspiring healthcare professional there is plenty of knowledge and insight that I could gather from them. The novel offers an in-depth understanding of the various cogs that operate the US healthcare machinery. These include the politicians, hospital owners, doctors, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, the citizens, etc. Of all these stakeholders in the US healthcare system, it bothers me to think that the majority of citizens/patients are the most disadvantaged in terms of economic and health outcomes. The two sources thus provide me with the motivation to play my part in changing the system for the better.
What does this book and the videos have to do with better understanding of the U.S. health care system?
The book and the video help the audience to better comprehend the U.S. healthcare system. One of the main reasons why the U.S. healthcare system is expensive is due to profit-motive of insurance companies and higher administrative costs inherent in private healthcare. Through Sick Around the World we understand that the government managed single-payer system greatly alleviates administrative costs and minimizes patient co-pay. The government also negotiates with healthcare providers so that the costs are not unreasonable. This centralized government management of the healthcare system is conspicuously absent in the United States. The United States is the only advanced society in the world to not have a nationalized healthcare dispensing model. Authors Richard McDermott and Kevin Stocks lay out the commercial inter-dependencies of various private institutions in the American model. The insurance companies give preferential coverage to the young and well-to-do. This goes against commonsense as it is the elderly and the economically disadvantaged that are more prone to illness. Though the authors do not take sides, it is clear that they think of the present system as deeply flawed.