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episode 338: Which country has the world's best healthcare system?


I got my start as a blogger. But more specifically, I got my start as a health policy blogger. My first piece of writing I remember people really carting about, and being proud of myself, was a series called “The Health of Nations,” in which I checked out books from college library, downloaded international reports, and profiled the world’s leading health systems. It was crude stuff, but it taught me a lot. The way we do health care isn’t the only way to do health care, It’ not the best way. Or the second best, Or the third.


Ezekiel Emanuel is a bioethicist, oncologist, and co-director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Health Transformation Institute. He was a top health policy advisor in the Obama administration, he’s a senior fellow at the Center for American progress, he makes his own artisanal chocolate, and he’s got a new book — Which Country Has the World’s Best Healthcare? — where he goes into more detail than I ever did, or could, to profile other health systems and rank them against our own.


So, yes, this is a conversation about which country has the world’s best health system. But it’s also about how innovation in health care actually works, whether there’s any evidence private insurers add actual value, whether health care is the best investment to make in improving health (spoiler: no), how do you improve a health system when half of the political system will fight like hell against those improvements, and much more. Emanuel has also been doing a lot of work on coronavirus policy, and so we spend some time there, discussing the question that’ tormenting me now: Are we simply giving up that fight? And is there even a politically viable option to giving up, given how much time the government has wasted and how exhausted the public is?


Book recommendations:

Master of the Senate by Robert Caro

The Last Place on Earth by Roland Huntford

On His Own Terms: A Life of Nelson Rockefeller by Richard Norton Smith



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 2020-06-22  1h10m