Disease-Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies, and Insurers Are Making You Feel Sick

by Lynn Payer (Author)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Are your health care providers duping you? Payer ( How to Avoid a Hysterectomy
), formerly chief medical correspondent for the International Herald Tribune and
health editor for the New York Times , seems to think so, arguing that far too
many doctors, as well as drug companies and insurers, are bilking the public,
frightening people with unnecessary tests and concentrating far too much on
benign conditions--e.g., fibrocystic breast disease, mitral valve prolapse and
insomnia. Even though young women fall victim to breast cancer, for example, she
opposes regular mammogram screenings for women under age 50 because the test
often does not find cancer in the women. She cites studies showing that women
who underwent regular screenings did not fare much better against breast cancer
than those who were not screened. And she's concerned that since mammograms
detect noncancerous abnormalities that must be checked out, they cause anguish
and unnecessary surgical expense215 . When it comes to insurance, she advises
that if a person has a pre-existing condition that he or she does not want to
acknowledge, the person should make sure there is no way an insurance company
can find out about it (either through medical or pharmacy records or from a
central medical data bank). To be sure, there are devious drug companies and
incompetent and crooked physicians who will wreak havoc with one's health. And
yes, doctors often administer far too many tests in order to prevent a
malpractice challenge. But does that mean the public should abandon medicine--or common sense?

From Library Journal
Payer's book seems to be addressed to the "worried well" or hypochondriacs and
offers scant comfort to anyone living with any medical condition for which
ignoring or minimizing symptoms and simply being tougher may not be the best
idea. This book has many important ideas and insights into the way we
conceptualize disease but is severely limited by the author's anecdotal style
(though the text is heavily referenced) and her focus on individuals, making
only passing acknowledgment of the social, economic, and ethical contexts
expressed more coherently and sensitively in Arthur Barsky's Worried Sick: Our
Troubled Quest for Wellness (Little, Brown, 1988) or Daniel Callahan's What Kind
of Life: The Limits of Medical Progress ( LJ 1/90). An optional purchase.

Product Details

Paperback: 292 pages
Publisher: Wiley (February 1994)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0471007374



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