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Dissecting American Health Care: Commentaries on Health, Policy, and Politics [Kindle Edition]

Douglas Kamerow
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
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Book Description

The intersection of health care, politics, and policy is a controversial one, and this book of lively essays takes on all of today's hot health topics: alternative medicine, health care reform, screening mammograms, taxes to decrease soda consumption, gun control, and many more.

Former Assistant Surgeon General Douglas Kamerow, a family doctor, journal editor, NPR commentator, and Chief Scientist at RTI International, combines evidence, opinion, and humor in 47 short essays taken from his health policy columns in the international medical journal BMJ and his nationally broadcast radio commentaries.

Some of Dr. Kamerow's many pronouncements:
  • "Guns don't kill crowds, but mentally disturbed people with high capacity semiautomatic pistols do."
  • "Just as 'on the web no one knows you are a dog,' it is also true that on the web many will not know you are a charlatan or a well-meaning naïf."
  • "The Pope's job is to be the spiritual leader of the world's Catholics. It would be a true blessing if he could do that without advocating policies that endanger the health of some of the world's neediest people."
  • "Screening people at one-day themed events, let alone on the web, strikes me as both a waste of everyone's time and a misleading promise of diagnosis and treatment that probably won't be delivered."
Other early reviews:

"One of the giants of medicine and public health...takes on the most critical issues we face, with clarity, brevity, and yet depth. I enjoyed reading this book, and so will you."
--Dr. David Satcher, former Surgeon General

"Dr. Kamerow's essays are witty, informed, curious, exasperated, provocative, constructive and just plain human. Kamerow writes in a way that invites general readers to realize that they have a stake here too - that these are their stories as well."
--Dr. Ranit Mishori, past Health Editor, Parade Magazine

"Dr. Kamerow shares with Atul Gawande and Malcolm Gladwell keen insight, lucid writing, and accessible brilliance. You don't need to be an insider to clearly understand what he's talking about."
--Dr. Jay Siwek, editor, American Family Physician

"Doug Kamerow's exceptional experience and wisdom in primary care, public health, and health policy are collected in a highly engaging series of brief, thoughtful, and informative essays on the major health issues that confront us--as individual and as a nation--every day. He writes with insight, wit, and clarity..."
--Dr. J. Michael McGinnis, Senior Scholar, Institute of Medicine

"Family doctor Doug Kamerow provides us with sharp, witty and personal observations about preventive medicine and public health in the U.S. His commentaries on how current events, trends and politics are intertwined with both offers us - the public - a rare glimpse of the complexity of implementing the popular notion that we can easily fix health care by preventing disease in the first place." 
--Dr. Jessie Gruman, President, Center for Advancing Health

"It is no easy task to "dissect" American health care, but Kamerow's essays do a fine job of it...a reader will undoubtedly be better informed about the complexities of health care after reading them, and may also feel that he or she has gained rare personal insight from a leading physician."
--Barry Silverstein, ForeWord Reviews

Editorial Reviews


"This volume succeeds on the strength of Kamerow's command of the subject and choice of persistent issues. For anyone interested in health care and its intersection with public policy and politics...this book fills the prescription."
--Kirkus Reviews

"An interesting and easily readable retrospective on medical developments of the past 4 years...perfectly suited for keeping on hand for those times when a few minutes are available to sneak in some reading."
--William E. Cayley, Jr., MD, Family Medicine

Product Details

  • File Size: 363 KB
  • Print Length: 172 pages
  • Publisher: RTI Press (November 16, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006IUHY1O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,349,285 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essays still relevant for today December 19, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Doug Kamerow has been a leader in preventive medicine in the United States for nearly 30 years. His insights and practical approaches to what's right and wrong in the health care system in the US are invaluable for anyone doing health policy. These short essays are clearly written in layman's language, but are sufficiently detailed to show policy experts and lay voters clear ways of thinking toward solutions to the problems in the US. For example, for this time of year (December) his essay entitled, "Scientists shed light on festive medical myths" from 2008 is still relevant today. His "Mammograms, poor communication, and politics" essay gives sage advice on how the US Preventive Services Task Force should improve their method of communicating with the public and policy makers, particularly during politically sensitive times. I'd recommend this to anyone, lay or professional, interested in good thinking, not just rhetoric or ideology, related to health care in the US.

Halley S. Faust, MD, MPH, MA, President-Elect, American College of Preventive Medicine
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Starting Point for Discussion on this Key Topic December 19, 2011
By Carl S.
Health care is not only in the news but is a critical concern for every citizen. From his perspective as a public health official, researcher, practitioner, patient, and journalist, Dr. Kamerow is in a unique position to see today's health care debate from each of these various points of view. The book contains discussion, therefore, of not only public policy and economic issues, but also scientific and technical ones, which are presented in an easily understood format. Discussion and change on health care are only just beginning. It behooves those who are participants in the debate to broaden their knowledge base. This book is an excellent way to start that process.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Humerous and intelligent... January 2, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
I found this to be an interesting collection of essays. As a health care provider and health care consumer I was able to relate to something in each brief column. The essays range from humerous observations from an insiders standpoint to provocative questions on the state of healthcare, to personal experirnce in caring for an aging parent with Alzheimers. Interesting, funny and thought provoking, I enjoyed it very much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what's on the menu? February 7, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Take 1 pound of the American Health Care System, mix it with 1/2 pound of the American Political System, add in a heaping tablespoon of insider awareness and a teaspoonful of common sense. Finally, season it with a pinch of idealism, "the possibilities and the potential". Stir until mixed thoroughly and then bake until well done. All together this is a recipe for an insightful book that Dr. Kamerow has compiled for the people who are partaking in this meal, the American Public.

Perhaps Dr. Kamerow is not currently a decision maker on these issues, (I don't know that), but he certainly seems capable and willing to monitor, analyze, and critique what it is that the decision makers are cooking up in regards to the health care system in America. There are some good items on the menu too, such as our detection and treatment of HIV just to name one.

I am grateful to know that Dr. Kamerow is out there tracking the current events regarding health care in America and also that he is willing to share his viewpoint in plain language to educate those of us who do not have the time or the inclination to stay current on these issues. I heartily recommend this book because it offers some overview of where we've been with health care in this country, where we are now, and perhaps the direction we are headed, along with some of the key issues, the opportunities, and the dangers.

After reading this book and getting a sense of the state of health care in America, I have a question about the menu. What's the soup today?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book January 2, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dr Kamerow is something of a rare bird, a medical doctor who is an expert on health policy and who can also explain complex topics in plain English. And not in dry prose: For example, Dr. Kamerow illustrates the hopeless complexity of the Medicare Part D drug benefit program with a personal story of his efforts to figure out the best plan for his mother. "Dissecting American Health Care" covers a broad range of contemporary health topics. If you want to better understand some of the key health issues that we face today, this book was written for you.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better in print December 18, 2011
Having listened to Dr Kamerow on NPR, I expected that his book would provide insightful commentary on the health-related issues of our times. I was not disappointed. In fact, reading about such far ranging topics as health care reform, alternative medicines, and obesity complement his radio commentaries quite nicely. This book is a must read for anyone who wants to gain an understanding of the issues related to American health care.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Essays January 5, 2012
Dr. Kamerow has been at the leading edge of prevention for many years. I always read his essays when published in the medical journals. Now they are all here in one great book. His writing is excellent, as he puts difficult issues into easy to understand language. He dissects the problems while giving thoughtful commentary. Always a great read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Readable, engaging, and lively, but most of all insightful commentary on a wide array of health and health care policy issues. Even the essays from two or more years ago have something to say pertinent to today's issues. As health care reform continues to be a front-page issue, much in this book offers relevant information pointing to the need for science and common sense to be wedded on behalf of long-overdue improvements to the nation's "nonsystem" for delivering health care to all who need it.
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More About the Author

Douglas Kamerow is a family physician and a specialist in preventive medicine.

A graduate of Harvard College, the University of Rochester Medical School, and Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Dr. Kamerow served for 20 years in the Commissioned Corps of the US Public Health Service. In the PHS he worked as a general practitioner in the National Health Service Corps, as a researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health, and in health policy and leadership positions at both the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. He retired from the PHS in 2001 with the rank of Assistant Surgeon General.

During his PHS career, Dr. Kamerow created and led successful national programs that have made major contributions to health and health care. These included the US Preventive Services Task Force, the Put Prevention Into Practice program, the Evidence-based Practice Centers program, and the National Guideline Clearinghouse.

Since then, Dr. Kamerow has been a chief scientist at the nonpartisan research institute RTI International, an editor of the international medical journal BMJ, a commentator on National Public Radio, and a professor at Georgetown University, where he teaches medical students and family medicine residents. Starting in 2007, he wrote the health and health care commentaries in his book Dissecting American Health Care.

Dr. Kamerow lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Celia Shapiro, and their three almost-grown children.


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