Analyzing how hospitals

This sparkling, light toned yet satirical essay written by Barbara Ehrenreich is both compelling and dynamic. With a cunning and sneering optimistic view, the essay, like a sponge, absorbs the attention of the audience from beginning to end. Blending with the ubiquitous ironies, humor gleams throughout the essay and thus creates a relaxing template. By using several pertinent literary and rhetorical effects, the author successfully mocks the trend of the commercialization of the current health care system and sympathetically speaks for the unfortunate souls of those without insurance.

To establish the perfect atmosphere for the audience, right at the beginning the essay presents the problem that “There’s been a lot of whining about health care recently: the shocking cost of insurance…” (par. 1) and “…Hospitals are increasingly resorting to brass knuckle tactics to collect overdue bills from indigent patients.” (par. 2) In order to lure the audience to be further on her side, the author enhances the ambience by purposely making the phrase “brass knuckle tactics” (par. 2) to contain dissonance and the phrase “the shocking cost of insurance” (par. 1) to contain consonance. Apparently, through the examples of Martin Bushman and Tawana Marks, it is certainly clear how aggressive the author is feelings towards insurance and hospitals. Without further ado, the author directly states in paragraph three that the hospitals have become debt collectors rather than “nonprofit charitable institutions” (par. 3), which they should be.

Brightly and effectively, the pun of “instead of the medicalization of crime, we are faced with the criminalization of illness.” (par. 6) is introduced. Undoubtedly, being very sarcastic, medical care is now parallel to the legal system. (undoubtedly, with lot of sarcasm, medical care is parelleled to the legal system) To support her sarcasm, the author makes fallacious comparisons between the terms “pre-existing condition” in hospitals with “prior conviction” in court and the terms “record” in hospitals with “case” in court. Although coincidence might be the cause responsible for their similarities, yet they enhance do uplift the ironic effect of the author’s point.

Structurally, the essay is well written. As some readers might notice, the author has written her essay in a very straightforward way: by only reading the first sentence of each single paragraph, those sentences craftily form a mini summary of the whole essay. In order to achieve this effect, most of these topical sentences from each paragraph usually start with transitional words or phrases such as of course, to compound the sufferings, not quite yet, because, and so on. Since the use of transitions bridge ideas peacefully, every paragraph finely merges with the context of the entire essay.

Humor, an important writer’s tool, As a writers’ pet, humor is one of the leading rhetorical elements of the essay and Barbara Ehrenreich starts using it right from the beginning with “Despite the growing misfit between health care costs and personal incomes, it is not yet illegal to be sick.” (par. 1) From this statement, the audiences immediately understand that the essay will defend be defending for the “crime” of being sick. However, midway through the essay, the author sarcastically fails in her defense by referring: “Sociologists have long seen a connection between sickness and criminality, classifying both as forms of deviance.” (par. 8) Being consistent with the jeering optimistic view, the author further mocks the incorrigibility of the current health care system.

The part where the which audience will enjoy enjoys the most will be the conclusion. By still taking a taunting glass half-full instead of a glass half empty view, the author ridicules the health care system one last time: “I have one last half full observation: Our prisons do offer health care – grossly inadequate care to be sure – but a least it’s free, even for child molesters, ax murderers, and those miscreants who have the gall to be both sick and uninsured.” (par. 11)

To save the best for the last, this conclusion is not only the climax of the essay, it is also the apex among all rhetorical effects. By comparing real criminals such as ax murderers with a person who is sick and uninsured – two things that are essentially incomparable to begin with – is the utmost sarcasm of all. Surely, this observation reinforces the idea of “the medicalization of crime” and the “criminalization of sickness”. In other words, Barbara Ehrenreich is insinuating that if one is uninsured and sick, even the jail is a better choice over hospitals. “Gouging the Poor” is surely a poignant criticism of the current health care system. With her ingenious satirical dictions and the pizazzy rhetorical effects, Barbara Ehrenreich successfully provokes the assents as well as supports from the readers.

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