Angles of Vision: How to Understand Social Problems

By Leonard Beeghley | Go to book overview

and medical treatment be commodities, like cars, that are purchased according to ability to pay, or should they be part of a basic set of collective needs? The other nations considered in this chapter all have national insurance (oriented to prevention). Thus, health -- the ability to feel well and to live fully, the ability to realize one's potential -- is defined as a right of citizenship. The United States, by contrast, downplays prevention and rations medical treatment by income and occupation. In the past the treatment of indigent persons depended on the generosity of physicians and charitable institutions. Are we returning to those days? I am haunted by Carlyle's story of the Irish widow.


Notes
1.
The focus in this chapter is on physical health, ignoring (unfortunately) the problem of mental health.
2.
Note my language. Although it is convention to refer to "health care" in describing what doctors do, they generally do not promote health in the sense of preventing sickness. Rather, they provide treatment when we become ill. In that context, the dedicated efforts of physicians are extremely important. When successful treatment results, as it has for me over the years, one ought to be appropriately thankful. But it is medical treatment that has occurred, not health promotion.
3.
HIV-AIDS will be added to this list, of course, as the death toll mounts.
4.
The word "estimate" in this paragraph should be taken seriously. Lewit ( 1995) provides data for 1988, which I adjusted for the impact of inflation in the cost of medical services as of 1996 ( USBC, 1996d: 119). The best way to think about these data is to note that it requires a great deal of money to treat lowbirth-weight babies and costs have been rising steadily. There is no end in sight.
5.
The literature on these issues is long; see Saigal ( 1996), Gemke ( 1995), Hack ( 1994), and McCormick ( 1992).
6.
On racial and ethnic differences in the likelihood of prenatal care and its timing, see NCHS ( 1996f). On differences in its quality, see Kogan ( 1994a, 1994b), Collins and Shay ( 1994). On treatment differences by race and ethnicity, see Mitchell and Khandker ( 1995), Eggers ( 1995), and Schur ( 1995).
7.
McKeowrfs work is quite readable and deserves a look. Subsequent scholars have added to his insights. The most important is probably Robert Fogel, "The Conquest of High Mortality and Hunger in Europe and America: Timing and Mechanisms" ( 1991); but see also Reves ( 1985) and Szreter ( 1988).

Recommended Reading

Fogel, Robert W. "The Conquest of High Mortality and Hunger in Europe and America: Timing and Mechanisms"." Pp. 156-89 in David Landes, Patrice Higgonet , and Henry Rosovsky (eds.), Favorites of Fortune: Technology, Growth,and Economic Development Since the Industrial Revolution

-210-

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Angles of Vision: How to Understand Social Problems
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures x
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - The Study of Social Problems 1
  • Notes 19
  • Recommended Reading 20
  • 2 - Abortion 21
  • Notes 41
  • Recommended Reading 42
  • 3 - Gender Inequality 43
  • Notes 69
  • Recommended Reading 70
  • 4 - Racial and Ethnic Inequality 71
  • Notes 95
  • Recommended Reading 96
  • 5 - Poverty 97
  • Notes 118
  • Recommended Reading 118
  • 6 - Drugs 119
  • Notes 144
  • Recommended Reading 144
  • 7 - Homicide 145
  • Notes 163
  • Recommended Reading 164
  • 8 - An Aging Population 165
  • Notes 188
  • Recommended Reading 188
  • 9 - Health 189
  • Notes 210
  • Recommended Reading 210
  • 10 - Reflections on the Study of Social Problems 212
  • Recommended Reading 220
  • Recommended Reading 220
  • Glossary 221
  • References 225
  • Index 249
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