Talk of health care reform seems to vacillate between scoldings and a snooze fest. So I'll admit that I attended last night's dinner and lecture expecting bored-with-a-chance-of-finger-waving.
Clearly, I need to get out more.
Journalist and author T.R. Reid took the audience at the OHSU Foundation of Medical Excellence lecture on a round-the-world tour of health care systems that was enlightening and, get this, entertaining. Most Americans know about the wonders of the Brits' system. (If you missed the delightfully weird London Olympics closing ceremony extravaganza in which seemingly ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING ever to emerge from that soggy little isle, from boy bands and bridges to Queen Elizabeth and Queen, and, yes, the National Health System as represented by synchronized swarming hospital beds of pajama-clad patients and their stern-looking nurses, well watch it now! Warning: Trim fingernails to safe lengths as severe head-scratching may occur.)
Reid talked of socialized health care systems in other wealthy countries including Germany, Canada and Japan, and briefly explained the funding differences between them, and also mentioned the out-of-pocket plans of, say, Africa and India, where the wealthy get decent doctoring and the poor are left to die.
The supposedly private USA system, Reid pointed out, includes all of the above systems.
The result is a big hot mess, despite the fact that we spend more money on health care than any other nation.
But why fix a system when surveys show 85 percent of us are satisfied with the way things are?
Well, Reid said, decades ago in Alabama there was this bus. About 85 percent of the people riding the bus were satisfied with the seating arrangements. But that didn't make it right to ignore the 15 percent.
Even if citizens can't accept the counter-intuitive economic logic of a national health care system, Reid is confident they will respond to the morality of it.
That rough and rumpled reporter truly believes in the goodness of Americans!
I feel better already.