A New York Times bestseller and Washington Post Notable Book of the Year. Now available in paperback. 

Award-winning New York Times reporter Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal reveals the dangerous, expensive, and dysfunctional American healthcare system, and tells us exactly what we can do to solve its myriad of problems. 

 

About the Book

It is well documented that our healthcare system has grave problems, but how, in only a matter of decades, did things get this bad? Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal doesn't just explain the symptoms; she diagnoses and treats the disease itself. Rosenthal spells out in clear and practical terms 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, explaining step by step the workings of a profession sorely lacking transparency. This is about what we can do, as individual patients, both to navigate a byzantine system and also to demand far-reaching reform. 

Breaking down the monolithic business into its individual industries—the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, drug manufacturers—that together constitute our healthcare system, Rosenthal tells the story of the history of American medicine as never before. The situation is far worse than we think, and it has become like that much more recently than we realize. Hospitals, 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. Americans are dying from routine medical conditions when affordable and straightforward solutions exist. 

Dr. Rosenthal explains for the first time how various social and financial incentives have encouraged a disastrous and immoral system to spring up organically in a shockingly short span of time. The system is in tatters, but we can fight back. An American Sickness is the frontline defense against a healthcare system that no longer has our well-being at heart.

 

Praise

“An eye opening discussion . . . [An] important book. . . . Rosenthal told an interviewer her goal was to “start a very loud conversation” that will be “difficult politically to ignore.” We need such a conversation – not just about how the market fails, but about how we can change the political realities that stand in the way of fixing it.”—The New York Times Book Review

“Patients can save thousands of dollars by purchasing An American Sickness by Elisabeth Rosenthal.”—New York Journal of Books

"An authoritative account of the distorted financial incentives that drive medical care in the United States . . . Every lawmaker and administration official should pick up a copy of An American Sickness. Then, at last, the serious debate could begin.” —The Washington Post

“Bold, insightful, well-researched analysis.” —Nature
 

“Truly remarkable for the extensive interviews and range of documentation it provides.”American Psychological Association

“In this in-depth analysis of a malfunctioning system, Rosenthal makes a compelling case against the hospital and pharmaceutical executives behind the “money chase,” and it’s hard to imagine a more educated, credible guide…The patients she interviewed share mind-boggling stories…She builds her case with one damning statistic after another…Rosenthal presents solutions both personal and societal in this commanding and necessary call to arms.” Booklist (starred) 

“Provocatively analyzes...Rosenthal unveils with surgical precision the "dysfunctional medical market"...a startling cascade.”Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

“A blast across the bow of the entire health care industry . . . Throughout, the author blends extensive research with human interest . . .A scathing denouncement.”Kirkus Reviews

“Elisabeth Rosenthal’s meticulous history of the crisis in American health care should be required reading for our generation. I have not read another volume that diagnoses the “deeply, perhaps fatally, flawed” system of health insurance and delivery with such lucidity, dissects its critical shortcomings, and provides such a clear prescription for its ills.  Bold, imaginative, tautly written and filled with fury and compassion, 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 

“Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, a physician turned tenacious reporter, shows how the ‘highly dysfunctional’ American health care system turned the Gentle Art of Healing into a Greedy Arsenal of Profit, where everybody does well—except the patient. She also teaches us how to fight back against useless treatments, outrageous fees, and bewildering bills.”
—T. R. Reid, bestselling author of The Healing of AmericaThe United States of EuropeThe Chip, and Confucius Lives Next Door

An American Sickness will give you many new reasons to avoid getting sick, but also the resources to help protect your finances and your life if you do. Elisabeth Rosenthal’s remarkable, outrage-inducing book reveals how each attempt to check the health industry’s excesses has been exploited for monetary gain. Both a fascinating history of dysfunction, and a clear manifesto for change.”
—Sheri Fink, M.D., Ph.D., Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Five Days at Memorial and War Hospital

“Through vivid, heart wrenching stories and trenchant analysis, Libby Rosenthal unveils the irrationality, indifference, harmfulness, and downright unfairness of the American health care system that can often seem more driven by profit than caring and compassion.  She also offers tremendously helpful advice to patients on how to navigate the system to ensure they get the best outcomes.”
—Ezekiel J. Emanuel, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Reinventing American Health Care