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Monday, July 3, 2017

Summer Reading Book Review: An American Sickness

Book Title: An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back

Author: Elizabeth Rosenthal

Reviewed By: Jan D.

This book is an examination of the healthcare industry in the U.S. and was written by a trained physician who subsequently turned her hand to journalism. The book is well-written and understandable.

After a brief introduction, Rosenthal provides 10 “rules” for healthcare in the U.S., which are as follows:

“1. More treatment is always better. Default to the most expensive treatment.
2. A lifetime of treatment is preferable to a cure.
3. Amenities and marketing matter more than good care.
4. As technologies age, prices go up rather than fall.
5. There is no free choice. Patients are stuck. And they’re stuck buying American.
6. More competition vying for business doesn’t mean better prices. It can drive prices up, not down.
7. Economies of scale don’t translate to lower prices. With their market power, big providers can simply demand more.
8. There is no such thing as a fixed price for a procedure or test. And the uninsured pay the highest prices of all.
9. There are no standards for billing. There’s money to be made in billing for anything and everything.
10. Prices will rise to whatever the market will bear.”

She then covers health insurance, pharmaceuticals, doctors, nurses, techs, hospitals, billing and all it's inscrutability to the average individual, instruments and devices, tests that are routine and not so routine, you name it, and what it can cost, and reasons why it costs what it costs - you may not be surprised, by the cost, but you will be outraged by the whys.

The second part of the book continues with why this matters, and things individuals can do to protect themselves and their loved ones from potential financial disaster. Rosenthal even includes appendices of resources for looking at the cost of prescriptions, hospitals etc...

Why you picked it up: I saw someone else reading it and asked if they thought it was interesting. The response I got was: "Every American should read this book...." (The person was correct!)

Why you finished it: I couldn't put it down.

Who you would recommend it to: Everyone. If you do nothing else this year, you should read this book. Your health, both physical and financial, may depend on it. When you're done with the book, write your government representatives.

Find An American Sickness in our catalog.

Summer Reading program participants! Submit a review of one of the books you read this summer. Your review will get you an entry into a special prize drawing in addition to the drawings for all program finishers. More prizes! Yay!
All you have to do is fill out our online form or email a short review (at least 5 thoughtful sentences - without giving away the ending!) to

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