During my Financing Health Care seminar, we were told to prepare a short presentation on how the health care system of our home country was organized and funded. I had two thoughts when I saw this assignment. One, it was going to be very easy because I just finished my first master’s degree in Bioethics at Case Western Reserve University. Part of this included writing a thesis on the United States’ healthcare system. Therefore, I already knew a significant amount about the organization and financing of private insurance companies and Medicare/Medicaid and didn’t need to do too much research. Two, if we really did have to listen to everyone’s presentation we were going to get bored very quickly. Although the Health Policy department is very international, I have met a lot of Americans over the past few weeks. If everyone was going to talk about Obamacare, what was I going to say?

Almost immediately after getting to class, I realized my assumptions were wrong.
First, I realised that although I thought I knew a lot about healthcare from my previous degree, I knew very little. Although my main focus was the USA, I also spent a lot of time learning about other systems such as the healthcare systems of the UK, Australia, and Singapore. But I knew nothing before coming here when I really think about it. Never had I thought to see how Spain’s system makes job security for doctors hard or how India is making positive steps in health equity. Although my first degree was helpful, I can still learn a lot at LSE.

Second, not everyone was American. Due to my concerns, I decided to give a presentation on Israel’s system since I lived there for a few months. It was interesting to learn about, but it turned out I could have talked about the USA. There was only one other American in my class and not each person talked about a different country which made for a great discussion.

Sitting in that seminar reminded me why I chose to come to LSE to study International Health Policy. Nowhere else was I going to learn about so many health systems from people who’ve experienced them. And nowhere else was going to push me to stop coming to the table with assumptions and pushing me to continue to search for knowledge.

Our last seminar I saw a different type of international. We were all split up into random groups and had to restructure and reform a community-based health care scheme for Tanzania. This was an amazing experience. Not only was I working with people from 3 other countries in designing a plan, meaning lots of interesting and unique views to help, but we also used other countries as examples. In total, we probably took advice from 10 countries in our policy proposal, a truly international approach.

Due to each group’s different backgrounds, each reform was unique. But what was most amazing was that we were able to, in theory, use our own international experiences to make a change. During that last seminar, I realised how lucky I have been this term to have these experiences and learn from people from all over the world.

Debra Winberg


Can be found in the library or baking in the kitchen. 50/50 change of finding me in either.