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Kern County Library Staff Suggests...: April Recommendations for Adults

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Recommendations for Adults

Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis by Tom Daschle - The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee necessary health care to all of its citizens, and as former senator Daschle observes, Skeptics say we can't afford to cover everyone; the truth is that we can't afford not to because U.S. economic competitiveness is being impeded by the large uninsured population and fast-rising health costs. Daschle's book delineates the weaknesses of previous attempts at national health coverage, outlines the complex economic factors and medical issues affecting coverage and sets forth plans for change.

Getting What We Deserve: Health and Medical Care in America by Alfred Sommer, M.D., M.H.S. - Will the public option impair our national health? Look no further than Canada and England, where it works—and where residents are just as long-lived and healthy. Sommer concludes that Americans' health will improve as they adopt healthier lifestyles and as better, more cost-effective interventions are developed and made available to all. His cry may get lost in the noisy national debate, but its clarity deserves to be heard. ~excerpt from Publisher’s Weekly

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care by T.R. Reid - In his global quest to find a possible prescription, Reid visits wealthy, free market, industrialized democracies where he finds inspiration in example. Reid shares evidence from doctors, government officials, health care experts, and patients the world over, finding that foreign health care systems give everybody quality care at an affordable cost. Many developed countries (Germany, Sweden, Denmark) provide universal coverage with private doctors, private hospitals, and private insurance. In search of relief from pain in a bum shoulder, Reid checked himself into the famous Arya Vaidya Chikitsalayam, an institution that he describes as the Mayo Clinic of traditional Indian medicine. After several weeks of treatment, at $42.85 per day, he was not only pain free but had lost 9 pounds. In the end, The Healing of America is a good news book: It finds models around the world that Americans can borrow to guarantee health care for everybody who needs it.

Money-Driven Medicine: The Reason Health Care Costs So Much by Maggie Mahar - In this superbly written book, Mahar shows why doctors must take responsibility for the future of our health care industry. Today, she observes, "physicians have been stripped of their standing as professionals: Insurers address them as vendors ('Dear Health Care Provider'), drugmakers and device makers see them as customers (someone you might take to lunch or a strip club), while . . . consumers (aka patients) are encouraged to see their doctors as overpaid retailers. . . . Before patients can reclaim their rightful place as the center—and indeed as the raison d'être—of our health care system," Mahar suggests, "we must once again empower doctors . . . to practice patient-centered medicine—based not on corporate imperatives, doctors' druthers, or even patients' demands," but on the best scientific research available.

Sick: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis-and the People Who Pay the Price by Jonathan Cohn - New Republic reporter Cohn offers personal stories of families--and the nation--suffering health-care crises. A man who has lost his health insurance watches his wife die of cancer that might have been detected earlier if he'd had better coverage, a Texas woman fights with her insurer to get her disabled baby therapy that could help him learn to walk. Cohn presents case after case of Americans bereft of adequate health care coverage after losing their jobs, or seeing their employers cut back on coverage, or insurers fight to provide the minimum of coverage. Cohn uses each case study to provide a historical and modern perspective on insurance and health care delivery, and the factors that have led to the current crisis. ~excerpt from a review by Vanessa Bush, Booklist.

Who Killed Health Care?: America’s $2 Trillion Medical Problem-and the Consumer-Driven Cure by Regina Herzlinger - "You don’t have to agree with her diagnosis and prescription for the U.S. health care system, but you do have to read her book. Once again, Professor Herzlinger has put together a well researched, well written, and very provocative blueprint for the future of health care." Peter L. Slavin, MD, President, Massachusetts General Hospital

Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer by Shannon Brownlee - Award-winning health and medicine writer Brownlee notes that Americans spend between one-fifth and one-third of health-care dollars on unnecessary treatments, medications, devices, and tests. What's worse, there are an estimated 30,000 deaths per annum caused by this unnecessary care. In a step-by-step deconstruction of America's improvident health-care system, Brownlee sheds light on events, attitudes, and legislation in the twentieth century's latter half that led to this economic nightmare. With the skill of a crack prosecuting attorney, she cites specific cases of physician and hospital fiscal abuse. Her aim is broad but not scattershot as she hits not just docs and hospitals but private insurers, Medicare, patients, medical device manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies by, for instance, quoting a pharmaceutical salesperson who confesses financing a physician's swimming pool to get the doc to write more prescriptions. She is not all bad news, though, for she posits models that could be adapted to create a nationwide health-care system that conceivably could staunch the current fiscal hemorrhaging. If only. Excerpt from a review by Donna Chavez, Booklist.

Uninsured in America: Life and Death in the Land of Opportunity by Susan Sered and Rushika Fernandopulle - Sered, an anthropologist, and Fernandopulle, a doctor specializing in public-health policy, provide a troubling look at Americans without health insurance, some of whom must choose between food and medical treatment. They interviewed more than 120 uninsured Americans in Texas, Mississippi, Idaho, Illinois, and Massachusetts as well as physicians, administrators, and health-policy officials. The result is a collection of heartrending stories of the "caste of the ill, the infirm, and the marginally employed." The authors describe the "death spiral" of people who lack insurance for myriad reasons--including self-employment and divorce--and whose illnesses cannot be adequately treated. Their medical conditions inevitably deteriorate--small tumors metastasize, diabetes leads to amputation or dialysis treatments--increasing both the costs and the dire consequences. Once individuals are caught in the death spiral, they are unlikely to find a way out. The ultimate impact of this shocking crisis is felt by all Americans in the form of higher health-care costs and more antibiotic-resistant bacteria as conditions go untreated. This is a stark and disturbing book. ~review by Vanessa Bush, Booklist.


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