Sunday, October 17, 2021

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

There are not many among us who would disagree with the notion that our healthcare system in the U.S. needs fixing. The question is how? There are those who would submit that the government needs to get its hands deeper into the machinations of the industry, while others are for a free market solution. However, one might also wonder how we got to where we are and why?

The author delves deeply into the reasons that explain how we got here. This reader has been beating the drum for years now, but the author has the training and background to buttress the arguments made. The fact is that our healthcare industry has long since moved away from the doctor-patient relationship, a relationship designed to provide for the best health of the patient, and has become all about the bottom line. Whether it's your primary care physician, your local hospitals, the specialist(s) you see, or the drug companies, their first and primary concern is "how much money can we make?"

The author explores doctors attitudes toward patients, listing them as either "compliant patients," those who do as they are told and don't ask questions, and "Difficult patients," those who dare to ask questions and don't always follow instructions to the letter. You probably know of this attitude among doctors as "The God Complex." Hospitals and their administrators have a light shown upon them for the "for profit" businesses that they are, in spite of many hospitals listing themselves as  being "non-profit." The recent Covid-19 "pandemic" and the extra money hospitals get for admitting patients as "Covid-patients" and the extra money for using ventilators are just two examples of how hospitals look out for their bottom line, as opposed to the best interests of the patient. Big pharmaceutical companies are shown for what they are, as treating patients long-term, rather than eradicating illness is better for the profit margin. HMO's and other "health insurance coverage" plays its role, as well.

Where this reader disagrees with one of the author's conclusions is when she determines that the government needs to take a more regulatory role, while overlooking all of her previous writing about how the government has contributed to this morass. However, this is the only disagreement we have. The author presents the problem(s) in great detail and uses many examples from people who have suffered at the hands of our healthcare industry. She then finishes the book by offering many ways that we, as consumers, can effect positive change that would not require government intervention. Much of this involved you, as the patient, no longer being compliant and just doing as the guy in the white coat tells you. 

Ask questions, demand answers, what does that treatment cost, get an itemized bill, make sure the hospital knows that you will not be seen by any doctor or specialist who is not in your healthcare network, and many other worthwhile examples. This book will make your blood boil, but it is educational, well written, and offers solutions to the problems. I recommend that each of you get it and read it, if you want to effect the kind of change that we all want to see, and to keep the government out of the mix.