- Paperback: 528 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (June 5, 1984)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465079350
- ISBN-13: 978-0465079353
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The rise of a sovereign profession and the making of a vast industry Reprint Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
A- for anyone interested in the current debates regarding health care, health care insurance and the ACA, you should realize, and this book documents, that there has NEVER been a "free market" for medical care. Since the US Civil War era one group or another has had various degrees of cartel or monopoly power of the market for medical services. This makes all rational discussions difficult because there is consequently no documentable evidence to refer to as to what a free market would look like. This hinders debaters across the political spectrum.
B- This is a social history and at times while reading it I wished the author had an economic historian coauthor.
C- The book was published in 1982. This means that the flow of the book segues from history to a current events commentary somtime around mid to late 1965. This is not a criticism just a reminder that with time the last hundred pages of the book may need revision.
Starr takes a long historical view of the medical profession and the role of doctors in it, paying attention to ancillary issues like hospitals, public health policies, among others. Starr's book should shake loose a lot of commonly held chestnuts about medicine in the US, most prevalently that doctors always enjoyed unprecedented social status or that doctors used to operate in a free-market atmosphere. As the title suggests, Starr points out that medicine and medical care has transformed from being home-based to being, more or less, "industrial" (albeit controlled but what might be considered a cartel). Key to this transformation is the sovereignty accorded this profession, often at the expense of health care's accessibility, not to mention cost.
Starr is not afraid to mince words or leave inferences unstated. In particular (as stated before) that doctors always operated in a free market free from government regulation (indeed, regulation is one of the ways doctors "captured" medical care, that government intervention/investment had nothing to do with the reputation the US enjoys in experimental medicine or research, that health care "crises" have long roots in American history, and that the role of corporations in present-day medical care has again transformed American medicine (and will continue to do so. Part history, part sociology, and part public policy analysis, this book provides much useful info in judging the heal care debate.