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Sick Around the World Essay

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Updated: Mar 25th, 2021

  • What does “universal health care” mean? Which countries in the film have universal health care?
    • According to Professor William Hsiao, a universal health care system is whereby the health insurance company provides uniform health coverage for all the citizens. The government chips in for the poor while the insurance companies do not necessarily need to incur profits (Reid, 2008). The system works well for countries like the United Kingdom, Taiwan, Switzerland, Cyprus, and Columbia.
  • In the United States, insurance companies can deny coverage to people who are sick or who have “pre-existing conditions,” and they can make a profit. How do these two factors impact American health care?
    • When the health insurance companies deny insurance cover to the sick or people with pre-existing conditions, then the patients themselves have to take up the cost of maintaining their health, which not only turns out to be expensive but also frustrating. Consequently, the patients have to seek alternative means to seek treatment, which strains their finances and time; therefore, based on this aspect, Americans rate their health care systems as poor or below average.
  • In Germany, the rich pay for the poor, the ill are covered by the healthy, health insurance continues with or without employment, and doctors, who are private entrepreneurs, make less money than they did before reform. Why will doctors in Germany accept less money? Should the rich pay for the poor when it comes to health insurance?
    • The health system in German maximizes on competition/transparency and not profits or bureaucracy, therefore the doctors earn far much less (Reid, 2008). The doctors have no choice but to accept their pay because the reforms are to ensure all people can access treatment. Additionally, to ensure the poor or sick people access medical assistance, the rich pay for their medical help, and the same scenario can apply in America.
  • Until 1994, Switzerland linked health insurance to employment; if you lost your job, you lost your insurance. But after the Swiss voted in a new system called LAMal, everyone had to buy health insurance, and insurance companies could not make a profit. Why was the Swiss willing to make this change? Why have people become more supportive of LAMal as time has progressed?
    • The Swiss government reformed its health insurance systems after learning that the insurance companies were competing for profit at the expense of people’s health. For instance, before the reforms, one could only afford insurance if he/she had employment; unemployment meant no insurance cover. As the years progressed, the people of Switzerland not only adapted, but also supported the new health insurance system because the insurance cover was universal and affordable to all citizens.
  • At present, between 40 and 50 million Americans are without health insurance. After watching the film, do you believe that providing universal health care should be the policy of the United States? Why or why not?
    • With a large figure of above forty million people without insurance cover, the American government should change its health reforms and adopt a uniform health insurance system (Reid, 2009, p. 20). The universal health insurance system will work for the Americans because the health system will focus on integrity; not profits. In addition, the universal health system will ensure all people, whether poor or rich, employed or unemployed have good medical care. Finally, if the universal health system applies in other countries like Columbia and Switzerland, then it should not be a problem in the United States.


Reid, T. R. (2008). Analysis: Sick around the world. Frontline. Web.

Reid, T. R. (2009). The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health. United States: Penguin press.

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