Bestselling investigative journalists Barlett and Steele (America: What Went Wrong?
) deliver a devastating indictment, supported by excellent research, of a health-care system that they say is failing to provide first-rate services to its citizens, 44 million of whom are without insurance. According to these Pulitzer Prize–winning reporters, now with Time
magazine, the U.S. compares poorly with other Westernized nations in delivering quality care and a healthy life expectancy, and preventing infant mortality. Per capita health-care spending continues to exceed the amount spent by many other countries, the authors say, because one out of every three U.S. dollars pays for administrative costs. The authors also present case histories of patients, some with life-threatening conditions, who were ignored by bureaucratic HMOs that put profit first. Barlett and Steele describe how health care first became driven by profits on Wall Street during the Reagan administration. Competing insurance plans, they say, led not to better choices for consumers, but to physicians who are prevented by insurers from prescribing needed treatments; a severe shortage of nurses; and unsafe hospitals where staff shortages and unsanitary conditions result from cost-cutting. The authors, who strongly advocate a single payer plan, successfully depict a health-care system in crisis. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (On sale Oct. 5)