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Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America Paperback – November 15, 1994

ISBN-13: 000-0226001393 ISBN-10: 0226001393 Edition: 1st

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Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America + Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor (California Series in Public Anthropology) + Death Without Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 289 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (November 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226001393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226001395
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The vicious circle of poverty and illness is powerfully portrayed in Abraham's ( Reinventing Home ) account of an uninsured, black, four-generational family in one of Chicago's "poorest and sickest" neighborhoods. Included in their medical misfortunes: the amputation of both legs of a diabetic grandmother; a drug-addicted husband on kidney dialysis who undergoes a kidney transplant; a partially stroke-paralyzed son; and children who lack primary care and immunization. This personally observed, lucid chronicle and call for reform of our ailing health system covers all levels of responsibility in the medical establishment, and deserves scrutiny by our administration's health service planners. Abraham concludes that a reformed health care system should set limits on health spending while stressing "caring" over "curing."
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

This is a refreshing chronicle of the inadequate patchwork of federally funded health programs caring for our nation's urban poor. Journalist Abraham uses the medically plagued Banes family as a springboard for his analyses of the convoluted, mysterious, and at times nonsensical healthcare system that holds the urban poor captive. Unlike Alex Kotlowitz, whose There Are No Children Here ( LJ 4/1/91) elucidates the glaring inequities in our social system through the powerful story of two boys, Abraham uses the Banes's ill health as a pulpit for reciting numerous studies, quoting scholars, and commenting on current policy debates. Abraham does an excellent job of explaining the maze of healthcare programs available to the urban poor. More importantly, he clearly identifies in human and policy terms how these same programs have failed a population desperately in need of help. Recommended for most collections.
- Karen A. Wolin, Univ. of Illinois Coll. of Medicine at Chicago
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

This book is well written and informative.
Becky
I truly believe that having read this book will better prepare me to serve those in need and be more aware and sympathetic to people's situations.
dra
If you're interested in health care in America, Medicare, Medicaid, Chicago, poverty, and health care disparities read this book.
Andrew E. Lin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
As a graduate student writing my thesis on urban health care issues, I must say this book is a gem! Laurie Kaye Abraham makes the most compelling arguments for health care reform in this book while walking the fine line of objectivity at the same time. Now I know I can truly say that I understand why many urban areas suffer from some of the same public health woes as third-world countries. Thank you, Ms. Abraham for inspiring me and thanks to the Banes family for allowing us into their lives.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be a great resource for a description of health care coverage for the lower income bracket individuals and families. It discussed many of the loops that people have to go through in this process and how simply getting to the doctor's office is out of reach without the right resources. This was an insightful albeit incredibly difficult book to read. Health care workers should read this and get a feel for how something that seems very easy to say is almost impossible to do...this is worth the time and money!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "g2004" on June 15, 2000
Format: Paperback
The U.S. government would like us to think that we, being the lone superpower in the world today, have all of our own internal problems solved. Not so. There are millions of uninsured and underinsured people (many of them children) in the U.S. who struggle to meet their own basic (and more advanced) health care needs. This is often a foreign world to Americans raised with good health insurance coverage. Yet Abraham shows us that we cannot ignore the health care problems in our own backyard.
As a recent college graduate who is entering medical school this fall, I was challenged to think carefully about how I will choose to practice medicine in the coming years. Given what I now know, I feel a responsibility to help change the plight of the uninsured.
As a final word, the only reason I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 is because the personal narratives, while very revealing, get a little long-winded at times. Otherwise, it is a great book, one that I anticipate referencing frequently in the coming years.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on September 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
I was required to read this book for a Social Problems Analysis class. Before, I had never thought about the major problems with our health system. Unlike a reviwer before me, I don't see her as being biased. If you have ever lived in a poor urban neighborhood, then you would know, Abraham is correct. People who live in poverty, often have no access to better health care, so they take what they can get. It is easy to say these people should take responsible for their health care if you have never been in this situation. Abraham did a wonderful job staying objective, even at times, when I don't know if I could have. I would reccomend this book to anyone who has questions about how the medical system works in poor areas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Connie J. Sides on December 3, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Abraham presents facts and statistics of poor African Americans through the story of four generations in a poor Chicago family as they go through life navigating the health care system. The story is presented from a very fact based point of view. It includes the trials of Mrs. Jackson, the grandmother; Tommy, the son; Jackie, the caretaker and Tommy's daughter; Robert Banes, Jackie's husband; and their three children.
Abraham presents the trouble deciding which jobs to take and how it will affect the overall family income when many jobs don't provide insurance. Statistics are presented on lack of family education about programs available for programs that would have not added income or taken away assistance they were already receiving.
This book took into account the physician's assigned to the case when the patient is admitted without a primary physician, multiple residents and having to explain issues multiple times. Residents and physicians do not always look at the overall picture but the latest issue. Even the lack of physicians discussing do not resuscitate orders with the family when Mrs. Jackson is close to death was brought to light.
I would like to ask the author what happened after the grandmother died and Robert received his transplant. How did the loss of SSI change their status and the outcome of their healthcare and financial status? Overall I give this book a 4 (very good). I agree with the authors position and policies set forth to help the poor are not working and need some serious revamping. I only rate it a four because of the tediousness of the information make it a hard to get through. This is a great read for those who want to do public policy dealing with healthcare reform and anyone interested in the plight of the poor having to negotiate the current system.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Becky on September 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a good read, and really points out the inequities that there are in families acquiring much needed health care in the United States. I recommend this book! This book will make you mad about what happens to people and the struggles that they face when just trying to get health care for their families. It also shows how people with few resources can be creative in finding ways to get healthcare. This book is well written and informative.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By dra on July 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
I am an entering medical student and I am required to read this book before the first day of class. This book is so eye-opening to the injustices that people in poverty face on a daily basis in regards to our health care system, that I believe that EVERY medical student should read this book before they begin their education. I truly believe that having read this book will better prepare me to serve those in need and be more aware and sympathetic to people's situations. I know that there are many holes and gaps in our health care system, but I now have a better understanding of them, and that is the first step. This book put real faces to real situations, stories, and problems. I recommend that everyone who is interested in learning how to better accompany those in need to read this book.
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