Book Review: The American Health Care Paradox
Why Spending More Is Getting Us Less
By Elizabeth H. Bradley and Lauren A. Taylor
In 2012, the U.S. health care industry made more than $849 billion, but Americans are far sicker than the residents of other nations. Using an array of data, historical context, and research, Bradley and Taylor make the case that the idea that medical care is a substitute for whole-body health is at the heart of our health care paradox.
The academic nature of the book makes it a dense and meandering read—a few quotes from health care providers add life to the data, then whole pages are devoted to comparing Scandinavia’s gross domestic product with America’s, or the structure of various health management organizations. The authors do make a clear and concise argument for how America’s obsession with individualism contributes to our lack of consistent and evenly distributed health care, which would ultimately be better for all segments of our national community.
“We purposefully have avoided offering straightforward solutions for which we recognize the public is thirsty,” Bradley and Taylor write. “If our book disappoints in this way, it is because of our deep belief that simple prescriptions will not be effective. Rather, we believe that changing the dialogue around health to be holistic and inclusive of nonmedical contributions is paramount to resolving the spend-more, get-less phenomenon in American health care. Only in the wake of such a shift will scalable and sustainable solutions emerge.”