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Sick and Tired: How America's Health Care system Fails Its Patients Paperback – March 8, 2010

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Editorial Reviews


 Sick and Tired: How America’s Health Care System Fails Its Patients
Helene Jorgensen. PoliPoint (Ingram, dist.), $16.95 paper (224p) ISBN 9780982417119
With this guide to America’s health delivery system, complete with her been-there account of its failures, Jorgensen compiles thorough notes for navigating the foggy environs of health care providers and insurers. In 2003, three years into a six-year bout with Lyme disease, economist Jorgensen (Why Union Workers Deserve Their Pay) began documenting her dispiriting struggle to get treatment (though she was so ill she could barely write a daily entry). Over five years, Jorgensen paid $11,000 out-of-pocked (in addition to an annual $7,500 health insurance premium) seeking a correct diagnosis, but was stymied by human errors, complicated by bureaucratic intractability: because her first doctor had not ordered the right test, proper treatment was delayed eight months; because her disease lingered beyond the four week standard set by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, she had to find new doctors. (Jorgensen’s insurance paid $180,000, a fact that does not go unexplored.) Through her experience, Jorgensen has developed a practical and gripping guidebook to getting sick in America, organized usefully by the practitioners involved: insurers, doctors, hospitals, labs, drug-makers, and disease experts. Jorgensen concludes with a thoughtful chapter on reform, in which she looks to the Veterans Health Administration as a model of wise remuneration. (Publishers Weekly 2/10) Title Summary

About the Author

Now recovering from Lyme disease, Helene Jorgensen has worked as a labor economist for the Center of Economic and Policy Research and the Public Policy Department of the AFL-CIO. She has a Ph.D. in economics from American University and an M.S. in environmental science and policy from George Mason University. 

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Polipoint Press (March 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098241711X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982417119
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,305,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Helene Jorgensen is recovering from neurological Lyme disease. As a patient for seven years, Helene set out to uncover why the health care system is failing her and so many other patients.

Before her ill-fated encounter with a bloodthirsty tick, she worked as an economist. She received her Ph.D. degree in Economics from American University. She also has an M.S. degree in environmental science and policy from George Mason University. Currently, she is a senior research associate with the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Helene lives in Washington DC with her husband and two adopted dogs Walnut and Kiwi. She volunteers at the Washington Humane Society training pit bulls.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By R. Byrne on February 10, 2010
Format: Paperback
In the midst of the legislative and lobbying battle over health care reform, Helene Jorgensen's Sick and Tired: How America's Health Care System Fails Its Patients is clearly a book for these times. But Jorgensen's winning mix of anecdote and analysis make it a terrific double threat to those who'd argue against substantive reform that puts health care consumers first.

Jorgensen's personal story about her difficulties in obtaining treatment for chronic Lyme disease that left her unable to work is affecting -- but all the more compelling because she is (ostensibly) one of those who should be having no trouble with the health care system as presently constituted. The author's background -- a college educated economist with good insurance through her own and subsequently her husband;s insurance -- did not prevent her condition from forcing her into a tortured labyrinth of wrangles over substandard care, pharmaceutical scams and battles over billing.

As a story of personal struggle, Jorgensen's tale is skillfully told and sadly all too familiar to anyone who's battled with chronic disease in America's health care system. But what takes Sick and Tired to a higher level is the way that its author weaves her own tale into a larger economic analysis of U.S. health care. Her background as an economist (Ph.D from American University) gives her both the skills and credibility to place her own struggles in valuable context -- and also to propose solutions to the mess.

Those who are not familiar with the ins and outs of health care in America will find Sick and Tired: How America's Health Care System Fails Its Patients a valuable introduction. And those embroiled in the policy debate will find here a winning combination of personal struggle and sharp analysis that may hold a key to breaking legislative logjams and making the moral as well as fiscal case for reform.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By hanshanmtn on February 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm in the process of reading this and will update my review when I've finished.

For now: Here is another rational and educated scholar, this one specializing in economics, so she addresses the business issues underlying the persistent and rapidly growing lyme controversy. Therefore, this book is also a representative part of the growing lyme awareness among non-medical/scientific types of intellectuals.

Lyme continues to spread quickly globally and across the U.S. Many anonymous citizens have now been stricken, as have people in the public eye, such as the elder President Bush, and a number of celebrities, authors, actors, musicians and other public figures. Many people now know someone who has it - so now this has become closer than "6 degrees of separation." This translates to a rapidly upwelling national problem (whether officially recognized or not), which means steadily growing business, economic and political impacts and problems.

The growing cases of entrenched lyme across the nation includes, of course, all kinds of intellectuals. (It's also a widely-recognized global and scientific issue, but I'm concentrating here on our US national issues.)

Because of the growth in lyme cases, there have been increasing numbers of journalists, writers, and also researchers and other scholarly types, physicians, and other thoughtful, analytical persons who have become curious to look deeper and beyond the conventional dogma (which when examined in depth, does not add up logically), to try to learn more about the whole picture and both sides of the controversy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 1, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been wounded by the double edged sword of Chronic Lyme Disease ~ by the notorious Borrelia burgdorferi infection and America's health care system.

Because of my own neurological damage from Lyme Disease and the disabling brain fog that makes writing book reviews so difficult if not impossible, I struggle in composing this review. I'm having yet another rough day in the throws of yet another Lyme "flare". But it is important to me that I tell anyone reading this review that... Sick and Tired: How America's Health Care system Fails Its Patients is ESSENTIAL READING!

This book is a validation of everything I have gone through over the last 28 years of Lyme infection, 12 of which I've had no health insurance. (I am now covered by Medicare even though I am under the age of 65). I, like the author, have been very, very sick with Lyme Disease. Having gone over 20 years undiagnosed and therefore untreated, I am chronic. I am disabled. My wonderful MD believes that the 2 solid years of antibiotic treatment that I have suffered through have done me more harm than good. So now he just tries to keep me as comfortable as possible so I can function as best I can with Lyme Disease and all the health issues and complications that have accompanied it.

As for my health care, I have been blessed with my doctor, a man of medicine and a true healer, a physician who is both generous and compassionate. It has not been my physician that has been so expensive but the diagnostics and the prescription drugs, with or without Medicare health coverage. I have been all but ruined financially because of my Lyme Disease.
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