An American Sickness

An American Sickness

How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back

Large Print - 2017
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A New York Times bestseller/ Washington Post Notable Book of 2017/NPR Best Books of 2017/ Wall Street Journal Best Books of 2017

"This book will serve as the definitive guide to the past and future of health care in America." -- Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies and The Gene

At a moment of drastic political upheaval, An American Sickness is a shocking investigation into our dysfunctional healthcare system - and offers practical solutions to its myriad problems.

In these troubled times, perhaps no institution has unraveled more quickly and more completely than American medicine. In only a few decades, the medical system has been overrun by organizations seeking to exploit for profit the trust that vulnerable and sick Americans place in their healthcare. Our politicians have proven themselves either unwilling or incapable of reining in the increasingly outrageous costs faced by patients, and market-based solutions only seem to funnel larger and larger sums of our money into the hands of corporations. Impossibly high insurance premiums and inexplicably large bills have become facts of life; fatalism has set in. Very quickly Americans have been made to accept paying more for less. How did things get so bad so fast?

Breaking down this monolithic business into the individual industries--the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and drug manufacturers--that together constitute our healthcare system, Rosenthal exposes the recent evolution of American medicine as never before. How did healthcare, the caring endeavor, become healthcare, the highly profitable industry? Hospital systems, which are managed by business executives, behave like predatory lenders, hounding patients and seizing their homes. Research charities are in bed with big pharmaceutical companies, which surreptitiously profit from the donations made by working people. Patients receive bills in code, from entrepreneurial doctors they never even saw.

The system is in tatters, but we can fight back. Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal doesn't just explain the symptoms, she diagnoses and treats the disease itself. In clear and practical terms, she spells out exactly how to decode medical doublespeak, avoid the pitfalls of the pharmaceuticals racket, and get the care you and your family deserve. She takes you inside the doctor-patient relationship and to hospital C-suites, explaining step-by-step the workings of a system badly lacking transparency. This is about what we can do, as individual patients, both to navigate the maze that is American healthcare and also to demand far-reaching reform. An American Sickness is the frontline defense against a healthcare system that no longer has our well-being at heart.
Publisher: [New York] : Random House Large Print, [2017]
Edition: Large print ed
ISBN: 9781524756208
Branch Call Number: LP 362.10973 ROSENTHAL
Characteristics: 656 p. (large print) ; 24 cm


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The history of problems in the American health care system for readers looking for insights into medical safeguards.

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Sep 05, 2017

Being employed in the healthcare industry a lot of the diagnoses were not surprises; but Rosenthal takes a nice concise analysis of the history and current condition of the malaise. In some areas her reflection and analysis is a little light (excessive use of technology for example).
But overall this is a must read for any patient consumer and a wake up call for a single-payer system.

Jul 23, 2017

This is not an easy book to read without losing your equanimity.

I already suspected that much of America's health care industry (sic!) no longer had patients' welfare as its primary goal, but this book makes clear that it's much worse: it's *%#& out of control!

As in a kind of "Little Shop of Health Care Horrors," Rosenthal leads us through instance after instance, segment after segment, where Congress has passed well-intentioned reforms and regulations, only to have them backfire and be exploited by providers to draw ever more money out of our pocketbooks - for no good reason except that they can.

The author offers ways for patients to to mitigate the unscrupulous onslaught of greed, but it's dazzlingly clear that much, much more needs to be done.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to reforming health care is that the providers don't see themselves as part of the problem. In a brief passage toward the back of the book, Rosenthal observes that each segment of health care - nurses, pharmaceuticals, device-makers, etc., - sees only its own corner and thinks that it is only getting its "fair share." They don't see the
big picture. With the help of this book, we can start to change that.

Jul 10, 2017

[Update: Outstanding article in Washington Examiner on July 10, 2017, covering the ACA's undercutting of physician-owned hospitals by Kimberley {I'll get back with her last name}, which allows for more privatization, commercialization of healthcare sector, while further destroying any competiton.]
More carefully crafted // don't look here, look over there \\ stuff from a NY Times type, the NY Times faithfully misreporting the news since its inception.
The ACA undermined? Did she even bother reading that legislation? It was structured as a wealth transfer from the middle-class/working class to the poorest, i.e., doomed for failure while further hollowing out the middle-class [dare this doc to explain to us the present size of the dwindling middle class in America?????]. Recently heard a neocon, believe he's now local in Seattle, a transplant from NY, Michael Medved, who claimed that the healthcare insurance companies were // forced \\ to raise their prices due to the ACA - - another completely false claim! The companies were and are recompensed by the government for lower prices to the poorest and those with pre-existing conditions which may incur profit loss - - they submit payment bills to the government, et cetera! You'll never hear this mentioned in any facet of Fake News!!!
The ACA was a bad bill, although great for hurting biopharmaceuticals and health insurance companies due to lower employment levels thanks to mass offshoring of jobs [it ain't rocket science: most Americans come by their health insurance at work, less jobs, less insurance policies written!!!!]. But, of course, the republiCONS will always offer something even worse . . .
And why don't these authors, claiming to always enlighten us, ever mention the chief cost drivers in America's disastrous [but profit-making to the super-rich] healthcare/insurance complex: (1) private equity leveraged buyouts across the healthcare sector; and (2) hedge fund massive speculation across the healthcare sector? [Love that perverted NY Times review: the market will solve the problem - - the bloody market is THE PROBLEM!!!]


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