In celebration of its 100th anniversary, Swedish Medical Center is partnering with SAL to bring critical thinkers on health care issues to Seattle, including T.R. Reid and Tracy Kidder.
Topic: The Healing of America
In his presentation, T.R. Reid examines why other countries have better, fairer, and cheaper health care than the USA. According to the World Health Organization, the U.S, the richest country in the world ranks 37th overall on health care cost, quality, and coverage. After traveling the world while researching his forthcoming book, T.R. offers lessons from other countries that will help us fix our rotten health care system. One key lesson is that most foreign countries do not use socialized medicine. Japan has 99 percent private hospitals and 5,000 health insurance companies—but provides universal coverage and excellent care for less than half what we spend per capita. Another lesson is that all the proposals to date from our politicians are too timid; they are tinkering at the margins, when we ought to be revamping the system head to toe.
While he was Washington Post bureau chief in London, T.R. Reid’s daughter’s pierced ear became infected. After a brief trip to the emergency room, she was cured—and hospital staff dismissed his attempt to pay for it. For Reid, it was a transformative experience. “I started thinking, ‘Now here is a health-care system.’ And it turns out, if you go around the world, there are a lot of good health care systems.” Reid uses his own experiences as an example of the efficiency and effectiveness with which other industrialized nations provide health care. In his Frontline documentaries (“A Second Opinion” and “Sick Around the World”), as well as in his most recent book, The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care, Reid studies how other governments provide their citizens with health care and how they pay for their systems in order to present solutions that help America. Reid wrote in The Washington Post: “As Americans search for the cure to what ails our health-care system, we’ve overlooked an invaluable source of ideas and solutions: the rest of the world. All the other industrialized democracies have faced problems like ours, yet they’ve found ways to cover everybody—and still spend far less than we do.”
As a National Public Radio commentator; a PBS, National Geographic, and A&E documentary film reporter and host; and a former foreign correspondent for the Washington Post, where he also served as Tokyo bureau chief, Reid reported from three-dozen countries on five continents. He has covered elections ranging from that of the British Prime Minister to Barton County Drain Commissioner. He has reported on the Olympics, the X-Games, the Asian Games, the Tour de France, the World Alpine Championships, and the World Chess Championship. He sailed on the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Enterprise while in the U.S. Navy—and went back to the ship 30 years later to write about it for National Geographic. He was detained and interrogated by Army officers in North Korea. He was stranded in Nepal’s Khumbu region after Maoists blew up the only airport. His story revealing the secret engagement of Crown Prince Naruhito is known in Japan as the dai-sukoopu, “the great scoop.”
T.R. Reid is a New York Times bestselling author and has written six books in English and three in Japanese, including Microchip: The Story of a Revolution and the Men Who Made It (1985), Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West (2000), and The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy (2004). In 2007 he was a Kaiser Family Foundation media fellow in health. He has taught at Princeton University and the University of Michigan. Reid has been married for 37 years to the attorney Margaret M. McMahon.
The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care (2009)
The United States of Europe: The New Superpower and the End of American Supremacy (2005)
Confucius Lives Next Door: What Living in the East Teaches Us About Living in the West (2000)
Microchip: The Story of a Revolution and the Men Who Made It (1985)
The Chip: How Two Americans Invented the Microchip and Launched a Revolution (1984)