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Paul V. Dutton: Historian compares health care

Historians in the News




Paul V. Dutton, a professor of history at Northern Arizona University and a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, wants Americans to pay attention to their health-care system.
His new book, "Differential Diagnoses: A Comparative History of Health Care Problems and Solutions in the United States and France" (Cornell University Press, $29.95), has a long name, but a clear purpose.

It describes how the two systems work, how they evolved and the problem that threatens both.

He compares the U.S. and France, because unlike England and Germany, which have national health services, the French and U.S. systems are based on a combination of private and public insurance.

France's national health insurance reimburses all patients for part of the cost of their health care - the sicker the patient, the greater the benefits. Private insurance picks up the rest for those who have it.

U.S. national health insurance programs - Medicare and Medicaid - cover the aged and poverty stricken. Private, employment-based insurance covers those who work for an employer willing to share the cost.

"In 2001, the World Health Organization named French health care the best in the world," Dutton wrote. "The United States ranked thirty-seventh in the same survey." ...
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