Politics for the People November Column on IVN

IVN Logo

A Review of An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back 

review-american-sickness-healthcare-became-big-business-can-take-back-49232-560x315

by Kayla Shifter 

Elisabeth Rosenthal accomplishes the seemingly impossible: she’s created a digestible and oftentimes heartfelt guide to the American health care system. Statistical analyses, facts, and financial data litter the book, but with Rosenthal’s ability to seamlessly weave personal accounts and her sharply written “Economic Rules of the Dysfunctional Medical Market” throughout the book, readers can feel emotionally invested in the political football that is our country’s health system.

Health care is often treated as a partisan issue, but so clearly transcends politics: everyone needs it. Rosenthal—a doctor and editor-in-chief of Kaiser Health News—comes at our flawed system as someone in the fold and speaks from experience.

Tackling issues like insurance availability, prescription and testing costs, medical billing, and the hospital industry, An American Sickness provides basic understandings with the help of stories from real individuals. These personal tales are injected thoughtfully, with intent. There’s no room for the interpretation on the reader’s part. No one will side with the hospital in Seattle that charged a woman’s insurance company more money for her less-than-a-day of services to remove a dangerous ectopic pregnancy than her two-day stay after her C-section years prior.

An American Sickness Book Cover (1)

In the chapter titled “The Age of Pharmaceuticals”, we learn of the corruption surrounding skyrocketing drug prices. Years ago, generic anti-nausea drugs became difficult to get. Allegedly, someone had purchased the plant that produced the drugs and shut it down. The FDA then issued a warning that linked the generic anti-nausea drugs to dangerous arrhythmias.

When doctors pushed for a Freedom of Information Act to study the documents that pressed the FDA toward its decision, they discovered that the abnormal heart rhythms occurred when doses from 50 to 100 times those typically given in the U.S. were used. The same problems arose when those doses of newer anti-nausea drugs were given, but since the older drugs had been issued the warning, hospital risk managers shied away from purchasing the generic brands. What formerly cost $2 to $3 skyrocketed to $149.

Rosenthal peppers her rules throughout, bringing us out of the misery that our health system can invoke and reminding us that this is not simply a series of recollections or stats, but a guide on how to not allow these circumstances to happen to you. She wants to arm you with the tools to navigate our greedy health industry, to get only the necessary treatments, to avoid surplus charges, and to steer clear of detrimental financial burdens.

Knowledgeable and sharp, An American Sickness is truly a user-friendly guideline for the average person. No one wants to prepare for the worst, but Rosenthal’s book is more punchy than dense, making her tactics and advice memorable. Remember: “Hospitals and doctors get away with unconscionable prices and practices because they think patients will be too timid to call them out on their greed, but they are very sensitive to bad publicity, to being exposed, or to the prospect of losing the confidence and support of a big local employer.”

With this book, Rosenthal gives you the power to fight.

Photo on 9-8-18 at 1.24 PM #3Kayla Shifter is an administrative assistant at Independent Voting, a writer, and an artist. This review was originally published on The Independent Voter Network here

***

Politics for the People

Conference Call

An American Sickness

With Author Elisabeth Rosenthal

Sunday, Dec. 2nd at 7 pm EST.

Call in number:  641-715-3605 

Passcode 767775#

 ***

Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

One thought on “Politics for the People November Column on IVN

  1. The book leaves out the start of the problem and thus does not understand how and why the mess developed. In the early 40’s there was a wage and price freeze. The unions rebelled. The president then allowed free medical insurance as a tax free benefit to the recipient. Thus started the problem that has become toxic. There is a relatively simple set of changes that would go a long way to solve the problem. That is all from me. I think it is important for you to verify the accuracy of the books you get us to read. I am no longer in this group.

Leave a Reply to Franklin Silver Cancel reply

%d bloggers like this: