An American Sickness


“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

“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

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

Even with Congress’s failure to officially repeal the Affordable Care Act, our healthcare system is desperately broken.  No proposed reforms have addressed the fact that the cost of medical care in the U.S. has grown far beyond what most people can afford, and pharmaceutical giant CVS’s recent acquisition of Aetna only underscores what Americans have known for years: Our healthcare system is now in the money-making business and not the healing one.

As a Harvard-trained medical doctor and veteran journalist—first with the New York Times and now as editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News—Elisabeth Rosenthal has witnessed firsthand how healthcare has become a business. In AN AMERICAN SICKNESS: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back (Penguin Books; On-sale March 13, 2018), she provides an in-depth analysis of how, in the past twenty-five years, the healthcare system has begun to focus less on the patient and more on revenue.

We are all experiencing increasing out-of-pocket healthcare costs: rising drug prices, insurance premiums, copayments and deductibles and surprise bills for services that we discover only after-the-fact are not covered by our insurance at all. American prices for everything in healthcare are 2-3 times what they are in other developed countries. Getting sick is unaffordable.

AN AMERICAN SICKNESS wants to educate readers on how we got into this dire situation, because an educated consumer is the one who can change it. The book gets granular (Questions I should ask my doctor; How to read a hospital bill; How to fight a hospital bill; How to negotiate with your insurer over cost) as well as macro (Why has our healthcare system become so byzantine? Who are the bad guys? Why are things like drugs, medical devices, surgery, childbirth, more expensive here than in most any other place in the world?). Blending extensive research with real stories of people caught in healthcare nightmares, she offers sage advice on how to make the system more responsive and affordable.

Even before Elisabeth Rosenthal grabbed the attention of the American public with the hardcover publication of AN AMERICAN SICKNESS, she had spent a lifetime studying our healthcare system.  As a child of a physician, then a Harvard-trained medical doctor, and eventually as a reporter, she’s had a front-row seat to the transformation of the American medical system from a caring endeavor to the most profitable industry in the United States.  AN AMERICAN SICKNESS helps us wrest control of our health from the ledgers of the medical-industrial complex and put it back where it belongs—with the consumer.

About the Author:

Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal was for twenty-two years a reporter, correspondent, and senior writer at The New York Times before becoming the editor in chief of Kaiser Health News, an independent journalism newsroom focusing on health and health policy. She holds an MD from Harvard Medical School, trained in internal medicine, and has worked as an ER physician. She lives in New York City and Washington, DC.