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Arts & Culture

Critical Care: America vs. The World - A PBS NEWSHOUR Special

Key Art, Critical Care: America vs. The World - PBS NEWSHOUR
Courtesy of PBS NEWSHOUR
Key Art, Critical Care: America vs. The World - PBS NEWSHOUR

Stream or tune in Tuesday, April 27, 2021 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Despite recent reform efforts, the United States still has the most expensive health care system in the developed world -- with worse health outcomes compared to its international peers and 30 million Americans with no insurance. 

As the Biden administration looks to expand coverage amid a global pandemic, PBS NEWSHOUR’s "Critical Care: America vs the World" examines the highs and lows of America's fragmented system and explores how four other countries manage to offer health coverage to all citizens more efficiently.

With reports by PBS NEWSHOUR national correspondent William Brangham in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Australia, and Canada, this special takes viewers on a global tour comparing how medical care is organized, provided, and paid for in the U.S. versus other countries. 


Joining Brangham for context on the lessons that might be adopted in the U.S. will be Dr. Ashish K. Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, and Tsung-Mei Cheng, a health policy research analyst at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs.

Take the Quiz

What does health care cost around the world? By Laura Santhanam

Critical Care: America vs the World

This broadcast is an update to NEWSHOUR’s "The Best Health Care?" series which examined how high-income nations have achieved health care coverage for their populations at a much lower cost, with better outcomes.

"Critical Care: America vs the World" begins in Houston, a city in many ways that embodies the best and worst of the U.S. system. It's home to the Texas Medical Center, known as "the biggest medical city in the world," with its array of incredible innovations and life-saving practices.


But just a few miles away, in low-income, predominantly minority neighborhoods, residents lack basic health insurance and die, on average, 20 years earlier than their neighbors elsewhere. 

This special report also looks at how universal coverage has shaped the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a detailed look at how Canada’s single-payer system responded to the crisis. 

As the U.S. begins mapping its next steps for health care reform, this primetime special offers viewers a valuable reminder that many other developed nations provide quality, universal health care for their citizens in very different ways — and the U.S. has a wide array of options moving forward if it wants to change.

Watch On Your Schedule:

In addition to the broadcast, the program will stream at and; on PBS NewsHour's Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter; and on the PBS Video App (available on iOS, Android, Roku, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Smart TVs).


Producer Jason Kane; national correspondent William Brangham; editorial collaborator Dr. Asisha Jha; associate producer Claire Mufson; health reporter and coordinating producer Laura Santhanam; senior producers Richard Coolidge, Murrey Jacobson and Patti Parson; and Sara Just is the executive producer.