An MIT Alumni Association Publication

Alum Books Podcast: Treating Healthcare

  • Joe McGonegal

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Raisa Deeber '71, SM '71, PhD '77 is the author of Treating Health Care: How the Canadian System Works and How It Could Work Better.

In the book, Deber, a professor in the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation at the University of Toronto, shines a light on the strengths and weaknesses in Canada’s healthcare policies and looks beyond Canada to best practices from around the world that countries like the United States might emulate moving forward.

Listen to an interview with Deber about the book.

With economic analysis and accessible case studies, Deber offers an unbiased look at the ways healthcare has evolved in Canada driven in part by able leadership and in part by regional and local influence. “The system was set up back in the time when health care was delivered differently, and you have some gaps now that we're trying to fill,” Deber says.

For a country like the United States, Deber has some pointed advice in reforming the healthcare system. “One of the pieces of research that I did is showing that most healthcare costs are absorbed by a very small number of people,” she says. “Most of us are pretty healthy most of the time. So the costs are this small proportion of people that account for a very high proportion of the spending. In fact this is one of the big problems you run into if you have competition in a healthcare market, because the easiest way to make money is not to take on those high-cost people. I don't understand why the United States has figured it out.”

Citing a study she conducted in Manitoba, Deber argues that healthcare providers need not ignore the neediest cases to still make a respectable profit. "Some of this is so penny-wise and pound-foolish,” says Deber.

Listen to the complete interview here.

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