Book Review: An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back by Elisabeth Rosenthal

Received an outrageous hospital bill? Despite being well insured? $50K for three stitches? Price of your regular prescriptions tripled with no generic in sight? Billed for being seen by a doctor you never actually saw? An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back by Elisabeth Rosenthal is not a book of random information about exuberant hospital bills, ridiculous billing systems, or a whiny story of expensive healthcare.

Just the opposite. This book, a call to action actually, is a detailed explanation (written by a MD with inside experience) of how our broken American healthcare system got to the point it is at today. And if you think patient safety and care has anything to do with it, you are in for a surprise.

The author did her homework. She did the research to inform you on how it is we got to where we are today. Ms. Rosenthal also provides a variety of helpful tips on what you can do to first prevent enormous bills, and second how to fight them in the event you are unreasonably billed/charged.

While the suggestions are not full proof, I can personally attest that I experienced some of what was described in this book. As a temporarily uninsured person in need of emergency medical care, I was left with several bills from doctor’s I had never met, and was overcharged for a procedure five fold compared to average. I followed the suggestions given, and was able to have my bill placed on hold (meaning I don’t have to make payments for the time being, without interest) while the billing department comes to a resolution about my dispute of the bill. In the meantime, I researched the pricing of the same procedure from other facilities, and have submitted that evidence as part of my dispute.

While cost is always a factor in everything, money shouldn’t solely decide how healthcare is provided. But sadly, money is exactly only what drives our current healthcare. Even with government intervention, the good intent is often found to have loop holes that are taken advantage of. The best way you can protect yourself and your family from being taken advantage of with the unethical tactics used by some of these conglomerates, is to educate yourself on how the current system works. And let me warn you, you WILL get angry while reading this book (rightly so). But you’ll also be empowered to make change in a positive direction.

Read this book. It is an absolute must read for anyone who may ever at any point, be in need of any type of health care services (umm… that’s all of us!).

For Health,



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