Thursday with Larry

09blog-phillip_smallThis past Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend a session on Japanese Health Care at the University of Michigan Alumni Center.  The format was a roundtable moderated by a professor in our medical school between a PBS/Washington Post journalist, an anthropologist from another institution, and a professor from our school of political science.  Prior to the discussion, I was so excited to hear about what all of the panelists had to say, learn about Japanese Health Care, particularly the differences between this particular model of coverage and some of the European models that I am more familiar with and why it works in Japan.

As I arrived at the event, I looked around to find that there were few seats left to choose from.  I walked to the second row because I saw one seat available, in between a balding man and a grey-haired woman.  The man jabbed me in the side and told me that the seat was available and he demanded that I take the seat before a couple walked in and he felt bad and moved.  I thanked him, shook his hand and introduced myself.  He told me that his name was “Larry.”

From this point forward, the conversation flowed.  He asked me what brought me to this event, but then he started to tell me about his working life.  He was a retired endocrinologist who had experiences with the Australian, British and Canadian systems through practice before he wound up practicing here in Ann Arbor.  He informed me about all of the positives and negatives of each of the systems from experiences as a patient and provider.  He gave me rewarding insight into the American system by telling me about things that need to change–fraud that occurs from patients, physicians, insurers, hospital managers and families.  Most of what he was saying was novel and invigorating.  As a student of policy, I understand that anecdotes are not good sources of proof, but they are sure fantastic ways to open eyes to new perspectives and ideas that you never before considered.

Everytime I meet someone with a Michigan connection, it amazes me how knowledgeable, helpful, welcoming and friendly he/she is.

For more information about Japanese Health Care and the systems in five capitalists economies, please turn on PBS for Frontline tomorrow night, Tuesday 10 November, 2009 at 9:00 PM.


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