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Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America 1st Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226001395
ISBN-10: 0226001393
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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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 289 pages
  • Publisher: The University of Chicago Press; 1 edition (November 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226001393
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226001395
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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By A Customer 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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Even though this book appears quite dated as this point - it is remarkable how it might have happened today. This is an influential work detailing the failure of urban health and is a key read for anyone interested in health policy. The history is approachable here and takes place in Chicago.

If you purchase this book realize you are purchasing a scholarly book which balances the "story" of how urban health fails in inner cities and limits the characterization of the individuals in the stories. I found Abrahams writing style helpful because it is "neutral" and so many health policy books appear to have an underlying agenda.
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I loved this book. It was so honest and the author did a very good job and helping you get to know the characters as if you were there watching it yourself. Definitely worth the read if you would like to know more about how Welfare, Medicare, and Medicaid really work for poverty level families.
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really enjoyed reading this book for class! it is eye opening and really shows us how much trouble the poor endure related to health care and it shows that it isnt as easy as we may think with their resources. also shows you how much money is spent fighting fires that could have been fought at much lower costs with preventative care - which they lack access to and education about! great book!
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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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