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Getting What We Deserve: Health and Medical Care in America [Kindle Edition]

Alfred Sommer
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

One of America's leading public health experts finds a host of ills in this country's health care system:

? The United States spends nearly twice as much on health care as the rest of the developed world, yet has higher infant mortality rates and shorter longevity than most nations.? We have access to many different drugs that accomplish the same end at varying costs, and nearly all are cheaper abroad.? Our life span had doubled over the past century before we developed effective drugs to treat most diseases or even considered altering the human genome.? The benefits of almost all newly developed treatments are marginal, while their costs are high.

In his blunt assessment of the state of public health in America, Alfred Sommer argues that human behavior has a stronger effect on wellness than almost any other factor.

Despite exciting advances in genomic research and cutting-edge medicine, Sommer explains, most illness can be avoided or managed with simple, low-tech habits such as proper hand washing, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and not smoking. But, as he also shows, this is easier said than done.

Sommer finds that our fascination with medical advances sometimes keeps us from taking responsibility for our individual well-being. Instead of focusing on prevention, we wait for medical science to cure us once we become sick.

Humorous, sometimes acerbic, and always well informed, Sommer's thought-provoking book will change the way you look at health care in America.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Both an ophthalmologist and a public health expert at Johns Hopkins, Sommer can honestly claim to have affected millions of lives with his pioneering work in vitamin A deficiency and blindness prevention. In this small gem he gamely takes on America's health care crisis. We have lost sight of the essentials that underlie good health, he declares. Making ample use of graphs, tables and maps to illustrate his clear history, Sommer offers a commonsense approach to our dilemma. Want to understand the West's dramatic improvements in life expectancy? Consider simple, inexpensive improvements in standards of living and public health, such as sanitation and nutrition, that predated the explosion of drugs and medical interventions, he asserts. 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. 31 line drawings. (Dec.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

An ophthalmologist with a long career in public health and epidemiology, Sommer initially points out that rising standards of living and ever-increasing implementation of public health measures, especially immunization campaigns, enabled population to soar worldwide from the late eighteenth century on. He emphasizes that the causes of disease are demonstrably many and complex, psychological as well as environmental, matters of social status as well as germs. Smoking and obesity, which are to blame for much illness today, could be alleviated behaviorally, but media sensationalism, ignorance, and commercialism confuse people about which behaviors to adopt. And then there’s the U.S.’ so-called health care system. Sommer touches cogently on such familiar themes of controversy as medical training, insurance, poor deployment of physicians, and “market forces” (“good for economists but not for patients,” he says) and in conclusion underlines the woeful importance of individual wealth in getting good health care. An ideal, realistic, nonalarmist first book on what needs reforming in American health care. --Ray Olson

Product Details

  • File Size: 1024 KB
  • Print Length: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition (October 2, 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003NSC6WG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,277,089 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding book! February 10, 2010
This is a brisk, lively review of health care in the U.S. Dr. Sommer is spot on in his analysis w/o any political bias. The U.S. spends double what other developed nations spend for health care on a per capita basis. Comparing outcomes, whichever way you measure them (and it's not easy), we lag far behind. Furthermore, per capita costs in the U.S. are deceiving since in the U.S. they represent an average figure from a cost distribution having a great deal of dispersion; some people have great health care coverage, other none at all. In other countries with national medical systems, the avg. amount spent tends to be truly representative.

Many of Dr. Sommer's points are well known. While this book does not purport to offer a comprehensive review and/or solution (certainly not in 115 pgs.), it does provide a great deal of knowledge and insight as to what's wrong and why. Very timely and informative given the national debate that's under way. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Is America's health care really the best available? "Getting What We Deserve: Health & Medical Care in America" discusses the modern health care debate with many intriguing ideas. Stating that America's policies have not changed despite increasing lifespans and technological revolutions, author Alfred Sommer comes to readers with a straightforward and informative read, as well as solutions for the future. "Getting What We Deserve" is a solid addition to any collection focusing on the health care debate.
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