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International Health Policy

...In Which We Praise US Healthcare -- Believe It or Not

Tip of the hat to Andrew Sullivan's always engaging blog for this one. A British Telegraph article (click here), reporting on a new study in the Lancet, shows that the US health care system produces the best cancer survivor rates 22 nations for men and women. Here are some of the numbers for five year post-diagnosis survival rates (for the fans and critics of Canada -- sorry, it was not on the list): FEMALE 1. US -- 62.9 2. Iceland -- 61.8 3. Sweden -- 61.7 4. Belgium -- 61.6 5. Finland -- 61.1 6. Switzerland -- 61.1 9. Germany -- 58.8 11. Netherlands -- 58.3 16. England -- 52.7 17. Ireland... Read more »

Comparing mandates - Learning from Switzerland

The Massachusetts Health Policy Forum, in collaboration with HCFA, hosted an interactive discussion today with former President of the Swiss Federation, and current Head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, Ruth Dreifuss, at Gardner Auditorium. The event, Universal Coverage and Individual Mandate in Switzerland: Lessons for Massachusetts, drew about 75 persons, including reps from the Connector, Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation, hospitals, health centers, and other organizations. Read more »

Getting Down with the Swiss

The Massachusetts Health Policy Forum and Health Care For All are co-sponsoring a public forum: “Universal Coverage and Individual Mandate in Switzerland: Lessons for Massachusetts” on Friday, June 22, 2007 from 9:45am-11:30am at Gardner Auditorium in the State House in Boston. Featured speakers include the former President of the Swiss Confederation and former Domestic Affairs Minister, Ruth Dreifuss, and noted Swiss journalist, Beatrice Schaad Noble. Switzerland implemented an individual mandate for health insurance coverage 12 years ago. Swiss health insurance is decentralized with... Read more »

US: We're Number One in All the Wrong Ways

Last month, at an Oklahoma University debate on MA health reform, Michael Tanner from the Cato Institute and I tussled over whether the US health care system is the best in the world. I was pretty incredulous that Tanner really thought it was. Wish I had this new material from the Commonwealth Fund with me. Bottom line: we stink pretty badly. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: An International Update on the Comparative Performance of American Health Care by Fund president Karen Davis, Ph. D., and colleagues includes data from surveys of patients and primary care physicians about their medical... Read more »

A Peek at the Israeli Health System II

(Haifa): Previous post focused on some differences between the US and Israeli health systems – especially around financing and access. Now for some similarities on these other concerns. Perhaps it’s superfluous to mention, but “universal coverage” is far from the end of the story. Concerns, tensions, and disagreements abound within a system that is getting stretched thinner and thinner, along with the rest of the Israeli human services system. By the way, Israel has the highest poverty rate among advanced nations, hovering around 30%. Cost sharing is a big concern here. With more than 30... Read more »

A Peek at the Israeli Health System I

I’m over here in Israel on a delegation sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. The trip is not about health care, though the 20 participants spent time at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem learning details of the Israeli health system structure. Difference and similarities are fascinating. In this post, I’ll talk about financing and coverage. In my next, I’ll talk about other issues of concern which connect with US concerns. Read more »

That Was Quick -- Swiss Voters Reject One Payer, 71-29%

Results are in from the ballot initiative election today in Switzerland. Voters rejected reducing the number of insurers from 87 to 1, and fixing premium contributions based on income and wealth, by a vote of 71 to 29 percent. Click here for a news article on the results. We'll have more to say about Switzerland's system in the months ahead so stay tuned. And click here for a helpful analysis of the voting results. Read more »

Swiss Treat: Single Payer on the Ballot -- in Switzerland

There's an election today worth keeping an eye on. Voters in Switzerland are going to the polls today to decide whether to reorganize their national health system by reducing the number of health insurers from the current 87 to 1. We have been interested in the Swiss system for some time now -- one of two nation's with a privately based, decentralized health system and an individual mandate. The Netherlands is the other. The Dutch mandate has been in effect for only two years, and the Swiss mandate dates back to 1996. The Swiss have universal coverage and the cost of their health system... Read more »

Dutch Treat II: Are We the New Netherlands?

This morning a presentation at the Blue Cross Foundation by economist Piet de Bekker, Policy Advisor for the Directorate of Macro-Economic Affairs and Labor Relations of the Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (yes, sport – can you imagine blaming state government when the Red Sox lose?). An august audience of about 50 including Sen. Dick Moore, MA H&HS Sect. Tim Murphy, Chris Hager and Emily Sherwood from the MA House, David Friedman from the MA Senate, Dem. State Committee Chair Phil Johnston, Partners CEO Jim Mongan, Rosemary Day from the Connector, and a lot more. Nancy... Read more »

A UK Medical View on US Health Care

Thanks to Nancy Turnbull for tipping me off to this juicy editorial from the new British Medical Journal. Do the members of the British Medical Association (BMA) seem hungry for our system? Judge for yourself: Say no to the market How representative is the BMA's annual representative meeting? If it is representative, there's an astonishing consensus among UK doctors about the health service we want. Last week's meeting in Belfast stopped short of affiliating with "Keep our NHS public"—a pressure group founded last year because of "an urgent need to defend the NHS". But there was no... Read more »


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