Articulate, loaded with informative details, especially timely, and bound to leave the reader reaching for a bottle of...

CRISIS IN U.S. HEALTH CARE

CORPORATE POWER VS. THE COMMON GOOD

A book examines all aspects of medical care in the United States and how it has changed over the past 60 years.

Geyman (The Human Face of ObamaCare, 2016, etc.) graduated from medical school in 1956. During the subsequent 60 years, he has garnered experience as a rural family physician, a teacher and administrator in three medical schools, and an editor of family medicine journals. He has watched as corporate health behemoths have swallowed up family practice, the traditional bedrock of the relationship between physician and patient: “Family medicine, as the direct descendent of general practice, taking care of patients regardless of age, comprises less than 10 percent of the country’s physician workforce.” The service ethic of medicine, Geyman declares, has been replaced with the “business ethic,” and the result is poorer patient care. Another serious problem he addresses is the skyrocketing cost of health care. High insurance deductibles, extraordinarily escalating pharmaceutical prices, and a tendency on the part of physicians to order excessive tests and procedures to increase compensation have put basic medical care out of reach for millions of Americans. Geyman cites several breathtaking examples regarding prescription costs: the drug Hetlioz, used to treat sleep disorders, costs $148,000 per year. And “hospitals and pharmacies found the prices they had to pay for a bottle of 500 tablets of Doxycycline, a decades-old antibiotic, rose in just six months in 2014 from $20 to $1,849!” This accessible, comprehensive book makes a strong case for a complete overhaul of the U.S. health care system. No fan of the Affordable Care Act, which he says has failed to reduce costs and is a boondoggle for corporate interests, Geyman concludes that the only viable alternative is a single-payer system: “Today’s health care system, serving its corporate masters more than patients, is unfair, ineffective, inhumane for those left out, and financially unsustainable.” The dense volume is occasionally repetitive but lightened a bit by the inclusion of vignettes from the author’s personal practice. Patient anecdotes and commentaries from copious professional sources are compelling.

Articulate, loaded with informative details, especially timely, and bound to leave the reader reaching for a bottle of aspirin.     

Pub Date: March 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-938218-15-6

Page Count: 358

Publisher: BCH Fulfillment and Distribution

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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