For those of you who still enjoy a good book, we’ve put together a highly selective list regarding universal health care, which, if you read just half of them, you’ll wind up knowing more than most policy analysts. Start with the first few. And if there’s a title you think should be on this list, let us know. We like to learn, too.
DEADLY SPIN: An Insurance Company Insider Speaks Out on How Corporate PR Is Killing Health Care and Deceiving Americans by Wendell Potter.
SICK: The Untold Story of America’s Health Care Crisis and the People Who Pay the Price by Jonathan Cohn, 2007. Both a devastating broadside directed at our broken health system and a passionate plea for single payer universal healthcare in America, this book has been rocking the debate since its release.
A SECOND OPINION: Rescuing America’s Health Care by Dr. Arnold Relman, 2007. This volume should be required reading for everyone in the movement. Relman, a Harvard professor emeritus, offers perhaps the most eloquent and persuasive case for universal single payer health care while carefully discrediting the so-called consumer-driven system we have today.
MONEY-DRIVEN MEDICINE: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much by Maggie Mahar, 2006. Mahar is a financial reporter whose work shines a bright light on how our system acts to maximize income while minimizing care. Offering no solutions, she nonetheless strips bare the myth of free market health care.
SOCIAL INJUSTICE AND PUBLIC HEALTH by Marian Wright Edelman (Foreword), Barry S. Levy (Editor), Victor W. Sidel (Editor), 2005. One reviewer writes, “I defy anyone to read this book and look at the US health care system the same way.” A resource for health professionals, academics, and über-advocates, written by two past presidents of the American Public Health Association.
HEALTH SECURITY FOR ALL: Dreams of Universal Health Care in America by Alan Derickson, 2005. The historical perspective on why we are the only industrialized nation that does not guarantee access to basic health care for all its citizens. It traces the various early movements for health care equality and explains why each ultimately failed. Depressing in spots, but with solid policy and strategy prescriptions for making it happen this century.
HEALTH CARE MELTDOWN by Robert LeBow 2004. A great book on what’s wrong and how to fix it. Written in plain easy to understand English – great for everyone.
SICKNESS AND WEALTH: The Corporate Assault on Global Health, Edited by Meredith Fort, Mary Anne Mercer and Oscar Gish, 2004. A collection of essays highlighting the global dimensions of health care inequity. If you’re approaching health care reform from the economic justice angle, this is your read. Highly recommended.
PATHOLOGIES OF POWER: Health, Human Rights And The New War On The Poor by Dr. Paul Farmer, 2004. This hefty (400+ pages) and moving volume articulates a class basis for the de facto economic rationing of health care. If you’re coming at the issue from a global human rights perspective, this is your read.
FALLING THROUGH THE SAFETY NET: Americans without health care by Dr. John Geyman, 2004. Includes an excellent introduction to universal health care, one you’ll want to keep around as a reference.
THE TRUTH ABOUT THE DRUG COMPANIES: How they deceive us and what to do about it by Dr. Marcia Angell, M.D., 2004. The author is a former Editor-in-Chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, well equipped to rip the lid off Big Pharma. An entertaining read if you want the detailed skinny on why our drugs are more expensive than anywhere else in the world.
TOWARD A HEALTHY SOCIETY: The Morality and Politics of American Health Reform by Milton Fisk, 2000. Originally published in the Policy Studies Journal, this article makes the case for universal health care as a basic public good, like education. Geared towards an academic and policymaker audience.
CRITICAL CONDITION: How Health Care In America Became Big Business And Bad Medicine by Donald Barlett and James Steele, 2004. A good pop read, filled with stories and well researched details on how far our health care delivery system has run off the rails.
PROFIT FEVER: The Drive to Corporatize Health Care and How to Stop It by Charles Andrews, 1995. Sadly, the nightmare scenario he paints here has already come to pass.
HEALTH AND HEALTH CARE POLICY: A SOCIAL WORK PERSPECTIVE by Cynthia Moniz and Stephen Gorin, 2003. If you approach health care reform via social work, this is your read. A detailed, specific, and relevant survey of health and health policy. In some ways, a classic advocate’s resource.
BENCHMARKS OF FAIRNESS FOR HEALTH CARE REFORM by N. Daniels, D. Light and R. Caplan, 1996. The book explains criteria that should be considered when proposing reform of our health system and applies those benchmarks to four proposals. The evaluation can easily be adjusted to accommodate additional values and principles, but it is a great starting point.
THE CORPORATE TRANSFORMATION OF HEALTH CARE: Can The Public Interest Still Be Served? by John P. Geyman, 2004. The author explores how the corporate transformation of hospitals, HMOs, and the insurance and pharmaceutical industries has resulted in reduction in services, dangerous cost cutting, poor regulation, and corrupt research. He sheds light on the political lobbying and media manipulation that keeps the present system in place. Exposing the shortcomings of reform proposals that do little to alter the status quo (Prescription for Pennsylvania, for example), he makes a case for a workable single-payer system.
PUBLIC HEALTH IN THE MARKET: Facing Managed Care, Lean Government, and Health Disparities by Nancy Milio, 2000. The author is Professor of Health Policy and Administration and Professor of Nursing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. This volume provides a deep policy road map for turning our system around.
LIFE SUPPORT: Three Nurses on the Front Line by Suzanne Gordon, 1997. A gripping, nuts-and-bolts account of what goes wrong on the front lines of profit-driven patient care. Still relevant.
BLEEDING THE PATIENT: The Consequences of Corporate Health Care by Himmelstein, Woolhandler and Hellander, 2001. ‘Nuff said.
UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE: What The United States Can Learn From The Canadian Experience by Pat and Hugh Armstrong, with Claudia Fegan, M.D., 1998. A slightly dated assessment of the oft-cited system up north, it is nonetheless useful ammunition against one of the health care debate’s most common canards.