Poor And Healthcare Limits Book Review

Length: 7 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Healthcare Type: Book Review Paper: #27466034 Related Topics: Demography, Care Plan, Affordable Care Act, Obamacare
Excerpt from Book Review :

¶ … L.K. Abraham's book Mama Might Be Better off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America. The critique includes topics such as the book's purpose, the book's scrutiny of the different healthcare aspects with regards to America's poor, and reactions of readers to the work. The focus of the book is on healthcare as of and upto 1994, the publication date; it does not take into consideration and/or discuss the healthcare changes as of the Affordable Care Act, also known as 'Obamacare'.

Topic of Book

This book's main topic is the effectiveness of healthcare in the United States (U.S.) with regards to the poor as of 1994; it also addresses particular formalities of American healthcare. Many of these issues have been addressed with the recent Affordable Care Act.

Purpose of the Book

L.K. Abraham's Mama Might Be Better off Dead offers a profound, unsettling view of the human aspects of healthcare. A disturbing, yet illuminating read, the book provides readers with a glimpse into the life of four generations of an African-American poverty-ridden family, plagued with the dreadful illnesses that have become commonplace in the inner cities of America.

Primary Audience

This book basically addresses anyone who takes interest in the healthcare issues of low-income American families. It would also be of value for those seeking to compare and contrast healthcare for the indigent before and after implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Brief Summary

The book's story happens in the locality of North Lawndale, in the shadow of the Chicago Loop. Despite being surrounded by several of the best medical facilities in the city, North Lawndale can be counted among the sickest and most under-served neighborhoods in America, in terms of medical access (Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America ). The Banks household, with its head of the family, Jackie Banks, struggles with numerous medical crises. Jackie has to watch over her diabetic grandmother, ailing father, her husband who is dealing with kidney dialysis, and three children. From dialysis unit and emergency room visits, to home-care trials, and striving for eligibility to Medicaid, Abraham records their access (or dearth of access, to put it more precisely) to medical attention.

Narrated sympathetically yet without a sentimental touch, the story of the Banks family exposes an inefficient system of healthcare, undermined further by the effects (both direct as well as indirect) of poverty. Poor people easily become sick Mama Might Be Better off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America). Also, sick people's families soon become even poorer. These themes are deftly woven together by Abraham to persuasively argue for reforms in health care, while at the same time unflinchingly displaying the complexities of making true reforms, which are both difficult and essential. The book has the potential to change the manner in which healthcare is understood in the U.S. It effectively presents a place to begin a debate on the current healthcare conditions for those readers seeking to find out about the current state of promises made by American healthcare authorities, and what is actually delivered.

MS Issues and Concepts

The book encompasses various concepts of healthcare as seen in Medicaid and Medicare. Wide arrays of issues are portrayed as being the outcome of poor medical attention, owing to low income (Writer Thoughts). Ideas addressed in the book include Medicaid eligibility, visits to dialysis units, emergency rooms and home-care struggles.

Contribution to Course/Contribution to Learning

The ability of students pursuing a degree in nursing to become educated on, as well as to impact the movement on American healthcare reforms inspired the staff of an online course on Health and Social Policy to formulate an assignment. This assignment combined comparative effective investigation with a Capitol Hill visit to meet representatives of the Congress (Manning and Grosso, 2011). Preparation for, and participation in such assignments can be challenging for doctoral students who are earning their degree online, and are already engaged in professional and family responsibilities. However, from the perspectives of both students and faculty, the lasting professional value developments are immeasurable.

Assignment readings of the course, PowerPoint presentations with audio components, discussion boards, and video clips facilitated students to acquire working knowledge concerning analysis and development of policies, history of American healthcare laws in relation to contemporary...


Course readings such as Abraham's critically acclaimed book Mama Might Be Better off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America offered students an insightful view into healthcare's human aspects.

Book Critique/Reaction

Two things have been discovered upon setting out to review former journalist of Chicago, Laurie Kaye Abraham's Mama Might Be Better off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America, which chronicles the battles of a destitute, urban family in obtaining healthcare. First, the author did a splendid job in summarizing what this unusual book was all about in her introduction; she also presented aspects of how her book was different compared to a conventional review (Mama Might Be Better off Dead). Second, even in the brief synopsis, Abraham, in explicit terms unmatched by rhetorical and statistical abstractions, succeeded in explaining why health insurance facilities for the poverty-ridden could not be akin to offering healthcare support. She also explained why all reforms to healthcare that continue to ignore the fundamental requirements of the country's poor will undoubtedly fail.

In her book, Abraham indicates that a long-ignored segment of America's population does not come under any healthcare plan as of the date it was written. (The massive changes to the healthcare in the United States as a consequence of what is called 'ObamaCare' are not addressed.) In part, problems for the indigent come about because several years of being neglected by the bureaucracy has made them weary and cynical of the struggle taken to obtain decent medical attention and partly because, in spite of their persistent attempts, they are too often denied medical care (Stabiner, 1993). Abraham resided for a year in North Lawndale, Illinois, a poverty-ridden black- community locality and alarming medical wasteland in Chicago, in which follow-up medical care could be considered a harsh joke, basic courtesy a costly luxury, and financial support a cruel maze encouraging divorce and unemployment. What is more appalling is that North Lawndale is just one among countless such neighborhoods that can be found all over America.

Abraham's 'Mama Might Be Better off Dead' recounts the life story of African-American Jackie Banks, as well as that of her poor family, and the attempts made by them to hold together the family's health. Her aged grandmother, by whom she was raised, has only just had one leg amputated as a complication of high and uncontrolled diabetes, which could have been treated better; her remaining foot has also begun to look bad. Banks' father, a visitor to the family only when he is in need of help, had experienced a stroke during his forties due to not heeding warnings regarding his excessive blood pressure (Stabiner, 1993). Jackie's husband, on the other hand, is down with a progressive kidney illness, which could possibly have been decelerated by early diagnosis; he has to arise many times in a week, before dawn, to visit a dialysis unit, as home dialysis is out of reach, given the meager family resources.

In the year that Abraham spent with the Bank family, she unraveled an extremely complex system, which a few patients basically give up on, becoming victims not just of the disease, but of state medical rules and regulations as well. The national welfare system is completely filled with Catch-22s- for instance, in case Jackie's grandmother states the income she earned, she would be liable to pay a larger amount for getting medical assistance; if their family income rises enough to shift from their miserable neighborhood to the marginally better locality as Jackie wishes, a large amount of money would have to be spent on medical bills. In a state of defeat before they begin to progress up the income and lifestyle ladder, the Banks family has no choice but to remain where they currently are. However, the infinitely sadder and more subtle issues they face are how they are given treatment after finding a doctor. Any individual who sits through a medical appointment, as an internist takes the entire medical history of the patient will cringe at the blunt indifference that Abraham's subjects are shown (Stabiner, 1993). Physicians do not ask them regarding past medical problems, nor do they follow through on future treatment. A few luminous heroes can certainly be seen- doctors who could make a comfortable living someplace else but observed the necessity of them being in Mount Sinai's emergency room; however, for each of these doctors, there are a trickle of marginal ones- that is, doctors having diplomas from obscure medical schools in foreign countries, who have discerned the way to make America's…

Sources Used in Documents:


Abraham, LK. Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: the Failure of Health Care in Urban America. 1994. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America." (n.d.). Retrieved April 26, 2015, from http://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/M/bo3620077.html

'Mama Might Be Better Off Dead.' The human face of health care. (1993). Health PAC Bulletin, 23(4), 30-33. Retrieved April 26, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10133594

Manning & Grosso. (2011). Doctor of Nursing Practice Students Advocating For Health Care Access, Quality, and Reform: From the Virtual Classroom to Capitol Hill. (33). Retrieved April 27, 2015, from http://jdc.jefferson.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1032&context=nursfp
Medical Care and the Health of the Poor Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America. (1994). The New England Medical Journal. Retrieved April 26, 2015, from http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199403173301126
Rochefort, D. (1994). Beneath The Abstractions Of Our Health Care Debate. Health Affairs, 13(4). Retrieved April 26, 2015, from http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/13/4/225.full.pdf
Stabiner, K. (1993, October 5). Book Review: A Free Fall Through the Health-Care Gap: Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America by Laurie Kaye Abraham. Retrieved April 26, 2015, from http://articles.latimes.com/1993-10-05/news/vw-42324_1_health-care-program

Cite this Document:

"Poor And Healthcare Limits" (2015, April 29) Retrieved January 20, 2022, from

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