Healthcare is a hot topic at the moment here in the US and there is a lot noise being thrown about as our distinguished leaders attempt to persuade each other. The health lobbies are spending millions to keep the status quo. Most news programs seem to be more opinion or editorial based so getting a straightforward and objective perspective is next to impossible.

Then yesterday, as I was driving home, I flipped on NPR and Fresh Air was one with Terri Gross. She was interviewing T.R. Reid about his new book “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care” and what he discovered about healthcare in other countries.

I particularly enjoyed how he walked through the four major types of healthcare currently used around the globe: Beveridge, Bismarck, National Health Insurance and Out-of-Pocket (details here) and then related to what his experience was living and using the health services. It’s one thing to talk about the concept and it’s another to have experienced it.

However, what blew me away was that we have all four healthcare models at work here in the US.

If you’re Native American, or a Veteran, you live in Britain. They get government healthcare from government hospitals with government doctors and they never get a bill.

If you’re an employed person sharing your health insurance premium with your employer you live in Germany. That’s the Bismarck model that was invented in Germany and used in many countries.

If you’re a senior and you buy medicare insurance from the government and go to private doctors, you live in Canada. That’s the Canadian model. As a matter of fact the Canadian healthcare system is called Medicare and when Lyndon Johnson provided it for our seniors in 1965 he borrowed both the model and the name from Canada.

And if you’re one of the 10’s of millions of Americans who can’t get health insurance, well you live in Malawi, or Madagascar, Somali or something. If you can pay for health insurance you can get it, or maybe you can line up at a free hospital sometime.

We’ve got ’em all and that’s really the most important difference. All the other countries have decided it’s cheaper and fairer to provide one model so that everybody has the same access to the same care at the same price.

So with everyone up in arms about “socialized medicine“, I find it interesting that however you define this made up word, we’re already engaged in it.

You can listen to the entire interview below, or go it directly at this link.