Commentary: Countries without 'socialized medicine' still do better than U.S.

In today's health care debate, many Americans decry "socialized medicine" as practiced in other countries, and say that's not for us. But, actually, developed nations provide health care using a wide mix of public and private systems, points out a former Washington Post writer who traveled the world checking out health care.

And some of those countries' systems are already duplicated in the U.S. in one shape or another, says T.R. Reid in a Sunday column in the Washington Post. He is author of the book "The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care."

"In many ways, foreign health-care models are not really 'foreign' to America, because our crazy-quilt health care system uses elements of all of them," Reid writes.

"For Native Americans or veterans, we're Britain: The government provides health care, funding it through general taxes, and patients get no bills. For people who get insurance through their jobs, we're Germany. ... For people over 65, we're Canada: Everyone pays premiums for an insurance plan run by the government, and the public plan pays private doctors and hospitals according to a set fee schedule.

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