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Health at Risk: America's Ailing Health System--and How to Heal It (A Columbia / SSRC Book (Privatization of Risk)) 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0231146036
ISBN-10: 0231146035
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Health at Risk: America's Ailing Health System--and How to Heal It (A Columbia / SSRC Book (Privatization of Risk)) + Landmark: The Inside Story of America's New Health-Care Law-The Affordable Care Act-and What It Means for Us All (Publicaffairs Reports)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

A great resource for understanding the development, problems, and possible solutions to health care in the US.

(Choice 1900-01-00)

Review

Illness is always a risk, but for a growing number of Americans, poor health can also mean bankruptcy or being forced to choose between enormous healthcare costs and other needs. Unemployment, too, is always a risk, but for many Americans losing one's job can lead to a loss of health insurance or being denied coverage at a new job. Health at Risk clarifies this issue clear in five briskly written chapters. It demands attention from policymakers, social scientists, and everyone concerned with the public good.

(Craig Calhoun, president, Social Science Research Council)|

At a critical time in our national debate on health care reform, Jacob Hacker and his colleagues have given us an invaluable guide to the future. We can no longer accept a do-nothing approach, when millions of our fellow citizens lack health insurance coverage, millions more are increasingly at risk of losing their coverage, and even those with insurance are facing larger and larger out-of-pocket costs for health care. As these essays show, we can rise above our nation's legacy of failure on health reform and get the job done.

(Senator Edward M. Kennedy)|

At a time when health care reform sits atop the political agenda, this collection of essays ought to be required reading-both for policymakers and for anybody who hopes to influence them. These are some of the sharpest minds in the world of public policy, bringing unique expertise to bear on one of our nation's most pressing social problems. They offer fresh insights while marshaling overwhelming evidence, producing a stirring and compelling call for change.

(Jonathan Cohn, senior editor of the New Republic and author of Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis-and the People Who Pay the Price)
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Product Details

  • Series: A Columbia / SSRC Book (Privatization of Risk)
  • Paperback: 139 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press; 1 edition (November 6, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231146035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231146036
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,226,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. Wolff on January 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Jacob S. Hacker's book, "Health at Risk: America's Ailing Health System - And How to Heal It" is a refreshing attempt to bring some level-headed voices to the discussion about health care reform in the United States, a debate that tends to be particularly shrill given the harrowing details brought to the table. But Hacker notes that despite the strident tone of the debate, facts do exist about the finance, organization, and delivery of health care that can help us to generate genuine solutions. "This book is an effort to bring those findings and proposals more fully into public discussion." To do so, Hacker has curated a series of chapters contributed by top policymakers and scholars in the healthcare debate, each chapter aiming to elucidate some aspect of the crises. Using clear and straightforward language, they present a "declaration of facts" intended to clarify the issues for lay readers. "Careful scholarship can and should speak to society directly and clearly on questions about which nonscholars truly care," writes Hacker, and the shared conviction of all contributors is that their writings here do so. This is a book intended less to solve the health care quagmire in American than to untangle several of the strands knotted into the crises in the first place.

"Health at Risk" is also a part of a larger project on the part of its sponsoring organization, the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), to consider the ways in which economic risk in the United States has changed in recent years. It is thus not merely a stand-alone volume providing a map of the health care crises, but a book relating that crises to wider shifts in the economic landscape. Hacker is a particularly good candidate to edit such a text.
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By Maja Djukic on January 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Hacker and colleagues offer a succinct, yet thoughtful analysis of the major issues facing the American health system today, including the rising healthcare costs, suboptimal healthcare coverage and quality, and the negative effect of healthcare costs on financial health. Health at Risk is a must read for anyone who wishes to engage in discussion on healthcare reform grounded in evidence from social science research.

In chapter one, Quadagno and McKelvey present two ideologically different solutions for transforming the American health insurance - social insurance model on which Medicare and Medicaid are based and consumer-directed healthcare which is operationalized through health savings accounts. Explanation of the underlying principles of the two models, including the adverse risk selection, moral hazard, and difficulties with shifting estimation of health risks to individuals are particularly useful in understanding the pros and the cons of the each model in reforming the current health insurance system.

In chapter two, Swartz discusses the impact of health insurance on health outcomes. Further, she describes the major population groups that comprise the 47 million uninsured Americans and the main reasons for the lack of insurance in these groups. She also examines plausible paths for securing universal health insurance and the associated costs. Swartz illuminates the importance of carefully considering the many faces of the uninsured as well as what a basic health plan should include in order to devise effective solutions for reaching the goal of ensuring all Americans.

In chapters three and four sobering statistics are presented indicating that "about a half of all families filing for bankruptcy do so as a result of a serious medical problem" and that U.S.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Christine Dalva on March 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Interesting book with some novel ideas about our healthcare system and "how to heal it." Not the cleanest solutions, but good food for thought and a new perspective. A quick read and short book, but quite dense with facts and ideas.
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Format: Paperback
Professor Hacker and his contributors do an extremely effective job at pinpointing problems and proposing solutions in Health at Risk. Each chapter looks at shortcomings from a different angle, and unlike other books that are content with just criticizing the system, this one actually offers up concrete, well-thought-out alternatives. A must read for anyone interested in health care policy.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Greer on February 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is the best short book for serious readers who want to learn about the American health care crisis- or for health policy experts who need reminding of the full scope and seriousness of the problems in the United States health care sector. The book makes clear the problems: from overrated quality to the devastating effects of uninsurance on households. It highlights the future problems- the pernicious combination of finance and health care that is spawning new businesses whose model depends on our collective failure. And it spells out the politics of solutions- the goals and strategies that might move us beyond the current half-solutions and polemics. Smart, expert, and savvy: it is the book everybody, including policy experts, needs.
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