FORA Science

Season 2010 Episode 0303

Sick & Tired: How America's Health System Fails Patients

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Sick & Tired: How America's Health System Fails Patients
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As an active person, Helene Jorgensen decided to enjoy a hike in the mountains one afternoon while attending a conference in Montana. Warned by friends to beware of bears, Jorgensen was attacked by a creature much more menacing -- the Rocky Mountain wood tick. Sick and Tired is the story of Jorgensen's subsequent illness and her descent into the quagmire that is the American health care system.Returning home from her trip, Jorgensen is quickly debilitated by a mysterious illness and sets out to find a diagnosis and cure. Along the way, she is seen by countless doctors, none of whom seems to be able to diagnose her accurately. She undergoes two surgeries, is forced to quit her job as a labor economist, and is saddled with countless bills and denied payment for claims. Jorgensen quickly learns that the health care system does not work; finally diagnosed with Lyme disease, she struggles for years to receive proper medical treatment.Based on the author's notes and observations, statistics, and survey data, Sick and Tired details the health care system's failings and lays out arguments to fix it. As an economist, Jorgensen takes a critical look at conflicts of interest between doctors, pharmaceutical companies, diagnostic laboratories, and insurance companies that restrict treatment options and increase patient charges.While millions of Americans negotiate the health care system, and try to make sense of health care reform, Helene Jorgensen's saga may prove an important consideration in the national debate. She provides advice about how to seek better and more affordable medical care from physicians, health plans, and elected officials.moreless
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