[Marxism] Comparing health care systems around the world
Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Tue Oct 11 08:11:29 MDT 2005
"Health Policy Reform - Driving the Wrong Way? A Critical Guide to
the Global ’Health Reform’ Industry, by John Lister, Middlesex
University Press, 2005.
Below are the openings of two reviews of what looks like an extremely
useful book. It may even be a necessary acquisition for those actively
campaigning for socialism.
THIS is a partisan book and author John Lister makes no bones about it.
He is seeking an alternative approach to health care - one that puts
He argues that the so-called "reforms" of the NHS, initiated
by Thatcher and continued by new Labour, are neither cost-effective nor
delivering increased efficiency.
In this meticulously researched volume, Lister offers an
incredible breadth of comparative information on health-care systems
throughout the world. The facts that he provides and the evidence that
he has collected unequivocally demolish the facile Blairite arguments
for opening up the NHS to the private sector.
. . .
The most problematic part of John Lister’s impressive 340-page book is
the title itself. The title could give the impression that the book is
mainly a detailed analysis of health policy in Britain in the post-war
period. While it does cover those things, the title fails to convey the
book’s global scope.
But the book is justified in starting with Britain, especially
so at a time when such attacks on health care (or "reforms" as he
points out the perpetrators prefer to call them) are being driven
forward in new Labour¹s third term in the form of new levels of
privatisation and marketisation of the service.
In fact these "reforms" represent one of the biggest attacks
on the British National Health Service since its inception in 1948. The
book points out that health policy "reform" has gone further and faster
in Britain than anywhere else in the world and that new attacks are
Also, given John Lister¹s two decades and more as a leading
health campaigner, you expect a robust defence of the NHS against these
attacks which threaten its very existence as a comprehensive, publicly
owned, service, free at the point of delivery. The book does not
disappoint in this regard. It is a detailed defence of publicly own
heath care and could hardly be more timely as a result.
None of these attributes, however, reflect the full scope of
the book in my view. The book’s rather down-played sub-title gets a lot
closer to the mark. It describes it as "A Critical Guide to the Global
’Health Reform’ Industry".
The book points out that, "Health care is one of the world¹s
biggest industries, accounting for global spending just short of 3
trillion US dollars in 1997, or almost 8% of the world gross domestic
product. It is also a major employer: the health care workforce,
numbering up to 35 million world-wide is the biggest of any industry.
Policy decisions affecting health care systems therefore not only
service users, but potentially the jobs, pay, and conditions of staff".
It continues, "Health related industries, notably those
manufacturing pharmaceuticals and modern diagnostic equipment, along
with US private health insurers and health maintenance organisations
are amongst the world’s biggest companies with turnovers in tens of
millions of dollars".
. . .
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