From Publishers Weekly
Maintaining a breathless pace as he relates one horror story after another, Whitlock (Scam School), an investigative reporter for Extra, Hard Copy and Inside Edition, sounds a warning to consumers about the $100-billion-a-year fraudulent medical businessAfrom bogus treatments to unlicensed practitioners, from those who perform unnecessary procedures to bottom-line-oriented managed-care systems that deny care because of cost. These scammers, he says, prey on those who are ill and vulnerable. Particularly interested in exposing fraudulent practices in plastic surgery and dentistry (an area not commonly thought of as being suspect), Whitlock had his teeth checked out by a reputable dental school and was assured that his mouth was in excellent shape. He then went undercover posting as a potential patient whose insurance would soon expire. He received six different estimates (ranging as high as $5,000) from dentists for "preventive dentistry." Whitlock also offers an indictment of profit-making nursing homes that hire unqualified attendants without checking into their background, which leads to serious abuse of the elderly in their care. (Whitlock went undercover again, posing as an inexperienced caretaker with a prison record, and was hired by an elderly-care facility.) Provocative, disturbing and, refreshingly, not sensationalist, this book offers a hard look inside the world of health care and offers specific tips that readers can use to safeguard their health. (Jan.) Forecast: According to Whitlock, 85% of Americans now have health insurance through managed-care organizationsAa huge potential market for this book that will be reached by a national media campaign, including a seven-city author tour. Simultaneous Audio Renaissance release.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Scams involving medicine aren't new: Whitlock sees many vitamin and food supplements as successors to patent medicines, infomercials as the new traveling medicine shows, and much on the Internet as modern old wives' tales. The biggest scam of all is managed care. Part of Whitlock's motivation for the book was his mother's experiences with her HMO, and they make brutal--but familiar--reading. Improvement will come only when patients are able to sue HMOs and force them to do what they have long claimed they are doing. In real life, HMOs' cost-cutting claims are false fronts for greed and control. Watchdog organizations and even Congress are beginning to see through these businesses that believe they are doing well by denying, rather than giving, service. Other "mediscams" include bogus doctors, impaired and incompetent M.D.s, and insurance companies that make false claims, especially about "medigap" and long-term-care policies. Whitlock offers practical advice for suspecting and spotting mediscams and for protecting the patient who is caught by one. William BeattyCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved