Wednesday, April 12, 2017

An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal

Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal is a Harvard grad and editor in chief at Kaiser Health News. Her book AN AMERICAN SICKNESS is a startling look at how hospitals have learned to break the rules by overbilling patients and taxpayers for services and ancillary items they may not know are coming, including “facility fees” to use spaces, physical therapy by the minute, and every minor item used in treatments (from toothpicks to suppositories at up to 100 times their cost.) Specialists who are merely in the room or are not known to be outside the network of insurance carried by the patient can bill at will. Independent consultants can add fees to bills, with unneeded tests generating a new round of fees each time. Horror stories are recounted of patients bankrupted by medical bills, some of whom thought they were covered by insurance. Narrated by actress Nancy Linari, the audiobook reveals just how tricky the medical industry has become to recoup profits lost for treating uninsured people in ERs as required by law. ER costs have skyrocketed too, as more people are coming in with gunshot wounds or heart attacks, living on the edge and overweight with poor diets. Will privatizing medical care help? Maybe not. Private ambulance services are abusively high, while many specialists demand higher and higher wages and fee compensations…some living in the Hamptons and commuting by private planes like Hedge Fund managers. Even charities that support research “are in bed with Big Pharma.” Then there is the drug industry’s link to the junk food industry (also with a foothold in hospitals, schools, movie theaters, etc.) Americans pay every which way from Sunday, only to be overbilled for funeral expenses. All to avoid eating right, exercising, and learning the facts from books like this. The “security” scare industries are not just the Pentagon and Homeland agencies, they extend to health care with the desire to be “safe at any cost.” Well, here are the costs of not reading and speaking out on the reforms she recommends: MASSIVE. Rosenthal offers real solutions to this crisis. Will people listen? Recommended for anyone with a beating heart. 
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ICE GHOSTS by Paul Watson is the true adventure story of the search for the lost Franklin expedition to find a NW passage through the Arctic in 1845. Two ships, the HMS Erebus and the HMS Terror were lost, and only later discovered in 2014 and 2016, respectively. An eloquent account--in chronological time--is given, illuminating the entire story from both then and now. Included are the many failed expeditions, some independent and others financed by billionaires.  The mystery and suspense elements are not exaggerated as in some Hollywood movie, but rather inherent in the text, masterfully read by Malcolm Hillgartner for Blackstone, available from Downpour. 

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