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Mamma Might Be Better Off Dead by Laurie Kaye Abraham tells the story of a multigenerational African American inner city Chicago family and their struggles with the health care system of the United States. Jackie Banes is the mother of three children; Latrice, DeMarest, and Brianna. She is the caregiver of her grandmother, Mrs. Jackson, and her husband, Robert, who suffers from kidney failure. Abraham plays a key role in following the Banes family and their daily experiences in their life at home, dialysis treatments, doctorsí appointments, and hospital visits while the family struggles to survive due to their lack of health care coverage. The Medicaid coverage that the Banes family does receive is not enough to provide for transportation and sufficient health care services for the whole family. Mrs. Jackson has to use her deceased husbandís name to receive Social Security benefits so she is allowed more money so that she can acquire care for her disabilities.
The Baneses live in North Lawndale, one of Chicagoís poorest neighborhoods, which is surrounded by numerous health care facilities. Due to their lack of transportation, financial support, education, and medical coverage, they are unable to use most of these facilities, and most of their hospital care comes from their only option, Mount Sinai. Throughout the book, there are many problems surrounding the dismal state of the U.S. health care system, and there continue to be few and often minor solutions.