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When an Expert Becomes an Amateur
on January 25, 2015
I am a big fan of Dr. Weil's approach to health. He is completely correct in saying that we can be healthier as individuals and as a society by avoiding the things that make us sick, by doing the things that make us healthy, and in general allowing our bodies to heal themselves with limited intervention by doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical manufacturers, corporations, and advanced technologies.
However here is what Dr. Weil repeats as a summary of the point of view he advances: "I present here an agenda that we should all be working for. It includes laws to be passed, government policies to be refashioned, institutional reforms, improvement of professional training and practice, and more." (p 219) Dr. Weil observes just before this "Correcting these problems will require a massive societal effort, including legislative initiatives that our present elected representatives are unable or unwilling to support due to their subservience to special interests."
Dr. Weil either does not know or does not care to accept that the system we have is exactly what the system we have has produced. He firmly believes and is insistent upon the view that the solution is government -- only not the one we have, the one he wishes we had. We need, he thinks, a government that does what he wants and forces everyone to comply. "The health insurance industry rakes in staggering profits," he says. So his solution -- more people need to have health insurance . . . and the government needs to stop excessive profits. In fact, a recent study found profitability around 3%. What has actually happened? The insurance company now has the federal government expanding its private business and subsidizing the purchase of insurance. The reality of politics trumps the idealism of a well-meaning healthcare worker.
I don't recommend this book, even though I agree wholeheartedly with his philosophy regarding keeping our health. There is a reason, I guess, that this is a "bargain" book -- it is no bargain. Dr. Weil is famous, and fame sells books, but here he repeats himself and indulges his fantasies in areas where he appears amazingly naive. In his defense, if I were to write a book on medical care, I might do nearly as poorly as Dr. Weil's book on fixing the American healthcare system. He should stick to his field, where his contribution will be far greater.