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October 17, 1990

Success and Crisis in National Health Systems: A Comparative Approach

Author Affiliations

Boston (Mass) University Health Policy Institute and School of Public Health

Boston (Mass) University Health Policy Institute and School of Public Health


edited by Mark G. Field (Contemporary Issues in Health, Medicine, and Social Policy, J. B. McKinlay, ed), 296 pp, $45, ISBN 0-415-01289-9, New York, NY, Routledge, 1989.

JAMA. 1990;264(15):2013. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450150115042

This book provides a stimulating and provocative examination of common problems facing the health systems in all developed countries. The fundamental question it seeks to illuminate is What can we learn from the experience of the others?

Professor Field and his colleagues set themselves a difficult but useful task and have done it well. The reader is rewarded with a well-orchestrated tour of diverse health systems that usefully illuminate different approaches to common issues of aging, access, technology, specialization, medical education, rising consumer expectations, growing costs, and limited resources. The serious student of public policy in health is provided with an accessible and focused approach to strikingly different health care systems.

The result of comparing national health systems could easily be a descriptive and analytic tome that is unreadable. This insightful and reasonably short work neatly avoids this without running aground on the shoals of superficiality. Field contributes greatly with