This book explores the contradictions between the mission of hospital care and the market for it. It shows how market forces and market actors have become increasingly important to contemporary hospital practice, and yet the commodification of hospital care in the United States remains uneven and incomplete. While they compete in a competitive marketplace, many hospitals—and the people within them—work to sustain social values that sit in uneasy tension with this market. In order to understand these contradictions, the book examines not only the broad sets of rules and regulations through which the market for hospital care is structured, but also the meanings, practices, and people that make up the hospital itself. The focus is on three hospitals located in Las Lomas, California—PubliCare Hospital, HolyCare Hospital, and GroupCare Hospital—and their ongoing struggle with the contradictory nature of the commodification of hospital care.
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