A compelling, hard-hitting indictment of U.S. health care and half-measure ObamaCare reforms.

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The Human Face of ObamaCare

PROMISES VS. REALITY AND WHAT COMES NEXT

America’s medical system faces severe and worsening problems under ObamaCare and can only be cured by a revolutionary turn toward public health insurance, according to this exposé.

Geyman (Souls on a Walk, 2012, etc.), a medical school professor and former editor of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, argues that while the number of uninsured has dropped because of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, spiraling costs and a decline in quality have left many Americans with unaffordable, inadequate, and insecure health care. He notes that tens of millions still go without insurance; that soaring deductibles and copayments mean that even insured patients often face crippling bills or have to forgo needed care and drugs; and that out-of-network fees and other fine-print gotchas result in huge unanticipated costs that still bankrupt families. Meanwhile, he contends, insurance companies have reduced their coverage and drastically restricted patients’ ability to choose their own hospitals and physicians, requiring them to drop their longtime doctors in favor of strangers and endure long waits because shrunken provider networks don’t have practitioners who can treat them. Geyman pulls no punches in detailing the failings of ObamaCare, but he’s equally hard on the market-based reforms of Republican opponents of the system (“If the Republicans have their way, individuals and families might pay less for skimpy insurance products, but would pay much more for necessary health care”). Instead, he fingers profit-driven health care as the root of the problem and advocates a Canadian-style, single-payer National Health Insurance program funded entirely by the government and delivered by private, not-for-profit hospitals and doctor groups. Geyman’s lucid and very readable (though sometimes repetitive) treatise has plenty of statistics to back up his arguments. But its heart is a series of individual health care horror stories wherein ordinary families find that ObamaCare promises of affordable treatments, universal access, and a choice of providers prove to be hollow. (One patient Geyman profiles was slapped with a $117,000 bill when an out-of-network consulting surgeon he had never met was called in while he was unconscious during a neck operation—a fee his insurer refused to pay.) The result is a smart, savvy analysis that shows the human cost of a broken system.

A compelling, hard-hitting indictment of U.S. health care and half-measure ObamaCare reforms.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-938218-02-6

Page Count: 238

Publisher: Copernicus Healthcare

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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