Feb 182009
Authors: Jessica Cline

According to the National Academy of Sciences more than 20,000 Americans die each year from diseases and infections that should be curable because they cannot afford to see a doctor.

T.R. Reid, a Washington Post correspondent, author and documentary host, traveled around the world to nine other democratic countries to see how their health care systems work and to find out how each has better, cheaper and more available health care than the U.S.

“I went around the world to ask why everybody deserves health care and how they are able to provide health care to everyone,” Reid said.

Reid will speak at noon in the Lory Student Center West Ballroom about his documentary experiences and writing his book about health care. He will share his thoughts about the current health care system in the U.S. and how he thinks it can be fixed.

Reid became interested in health care while living in London on a job for the Washington Post.

While abroad, his 13-year-old daughter got her ears pierced by a man on the streets and after they became infected, they took a cab to an emergency room where she received treatment.

Reid said that the doctor did a great job but was shocked when the he was told there was no charge for the procedure. At that point, his interest in the diversity of global health care systems was piqued.

“It is possible to provide health care for everyone but first our country has to decide that we want to provide health care for everyone,” Reid said. “Other countries have all decided that if a person is sick they want to provide health care for them and they have done it.”

Compared to other countries, Reid said the U.S. is lagging behind.

“Here in the United States we have rights to free lawyers, and rights to free education, but if you get sick you don’t have the right to go to a doctor for free,” Reid said. “That doesn’t happen in other countries.”

Hartshorn Health Service employees said the current health care system needs evaluating.

“I think that health care is a huge cost and many people don’t have access to it so I think we should definitely look at what is and isn’t working so that we can have a better working system in the U.S.,” Deb Morris, a Hartshorn Health Service employee, said.

Professor and Department Chair of the Department of Journalism and Technical Communication Greg Luft said he hopes students “can glean some information” about how Reid became successful in journalism.

“From a journalist’s perspective, Reid has a great reputation,” Luft said. “His in-depth examinations of the health industry, in particular, have the potential of helping the U.S. find answers to our health care woes by demonstrating how other nations have approached the problem.”

Reid said reforming our health care system is possible.

“If we want to provide universal health care coverage at a reasonable cost to everyone it is possible,” Reid said. “I believe we can do it because everyone else does it.”

“I think Americans are ready to fix our health care systems and your generation can be the ones to do it.”

News writer Jessica Cline can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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