Synopses & Reviews
In 2003, economist Helene Jorgensen was bitten by a tick and thus began her new, unpaid, and full-time job—sojourner through the U.S. health care system. Her five-year odyssey reveals the many inefficiencies and irrationalities that both characterize the system and put lives—and the U.S. economy—at risk. Sick and Tired tells two stories. One examines Jorgensen’s personal struggle to receive proper treatment for Lyme disease and to fend off an ever-expanding set of uncovered medical bills. The other narrative, based on Jorgensen’s expertise as an economist, examines institutional failures at every stage of the U.S. health care system, including diagnosis, treatment, insurance, and prescriptions. Having surveyed those failures, she offers practical guidelines for their correction.
Sick and Tired: How America’s Health Care System Fails Its Patients
Helene Jorgensen. PoliPoint (Ingram, dist.), $16.95 paper (224p) ISBN 9780982417119
With this guide to America’s health delivery system, complete with her been-there account of its failures, Jorgensen compiles thorough notes for navigating the foggy environs of health care providers and insurers. In 2003, three years into a six-year bout with Lyme disease, economist Jorgensen (Why Union Workers Deserve Their Pay) began documenting her dispiriting struggle to get treatment (though she was so ill she could barely write a daily entry). Over five years, Jorgensen paid $11,000 out-of-pocked (in addition to an annual $7,500 health insurance premium) seeking a correct diagnosis, but was stymied by human errors, complicated by bureaucratic intractability: because her first doctor had not ordered the right test, proper treatment was delayed eight months; because her disease lingered beyond the four week standard set by the Infectious Diseases Society of America, she had to find new doctors. (Jorgensen’s insurance paid $180,000, a fact that does not go unexplored.) Through her experience, Jorgensen has developed a practical and gripping guidebook to getting sick in America, organized usefully by the practitioners involved: insurers, doctors, hospitals, labs, drug-makers, and disease experts. Jorgensen concludes with a thoughtful chapter on reform, in which she looks to the Veterans Health Administration as a model of wise remuneration. (Publishers Weekly 2/10) Title Summary
Sick and Tired examines the U.S. health care system from a patient’s perspective. It tells the story of the author’s struggle to receive proper medical treatment for Lyme disease and to have her health insurance company pay for an ever-expanding set of medical bills. Jorgensen uses her expertise as an economist to examine the reasons that the health care system fails patients.
About the Author
Now recovering from Lyme disease, Helene Jorgensen has worked as a labor economist for the Center of Economic and Policy Research and the Public Policy Department of the AFL-CIO. She has a Ph.D. in economics from American University and an M.S. in environmental science and policy from George Mason University.