Recommended Books

To learn more about America’s broken healthcare system and what we can do about it, we recommend these books. The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be and the more you can do to help us change the system.
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From the New York Times bestselling author of Unaccountable comes an eye-opening, urgent look at America's broken health care system—and the people who are saving it.

One in five Americans now has medical debt in collections and rising health care costs today threaten every small business in America. Dr. Makary, one of the nation's leading health care experts, travels across America and details why health care has become a bubble. Drawing from on-the-ground stories, his research, and his own experience, The Price We Pay paints a vivid picture of price-gouging, middlemen, and a series of elusive money games in need of a serious shake-up. Dr. Makary shows how so much of health care spending goes to things that have nothing to do with health and what you can do about it. Dr. Makary challenges the medical establishment to remember medicine's noble heritage of caring for people when they are vulnerable.

The Price We Pay offers a roadmap for everyday Americans and business leaders to get a better deal on their health care, and profiles the disruptors who are innovating medical care. The movement to restore medicine to its mission, Makary argues, is alive and well--a mission that can rebuild the public trust and save our country from the crushing cost of health care.

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Why is the American health care system so dysfunctional and expensive? Why does the EpiPen, containing $1 worth of medicine, cost $600? Why do hospitalized patients receive bills laden with inflated and surprise charges that come out of the blue from out-of-network providers, or that demand payment for services that weren't delivered? Why is more than $1 trillion―one out of every three dollars that passes through the system―lost to fraud, wasted on services that don't help patients, or misspent? What are the causes of spiraling costs, mediocre quality, and limited access?

Overcharged details how the answers to these questions are connected and reveals a system that performs as if it had been designed to spend as much money as it can, and to be as confusing and unfriendly as possible, with no accountability. Overcharged then exhaustively details real reforms―showing how health care can become more efficient and pro-consumer when it is subjected to the competitive forces that apply to the rest of the economy, and will only get better and cheaper when consumers exert pressure from below.

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At a moment of drastic political upheaval, An American Sickness is a shocking investigation into our dysfunctional healthcare system - and offers practical solutions to its myriad problems.

In these troubled times, perhaps no institution has unraveled more quickly and more completely than American medicine. In only a few decades, the medical system has been overrun by organizations seeking to exploit for profit the trust that vulnerable and sick Americans place in their healthcare. Our politicians have proven themselves either unwilling or incapable of reining in the increasingly outrageous costs faced by patients, and market-based solutions only seem to funnel larger and larger sums of our money into the hands of corporations. Impossibly high insurance premiums and inexplicably large bills have become facts of life; fatalism has set in. Very quickly Americans have been made to accept paying more for less. How did things get so bad so fast? 

Breaking down this monolithic business into the individual industries—the hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, and drug manufacturers—that together constitute our healthcare system, Rosenthal exposes the recent evolution of American medicine as never before. How did healthcare, the caring endeavor, become healthcare, the highly profitable industry? Hospital systems, which are managed by business executives, behave like predatory lenders, hounding patients and seizing their homes. Research charities are in bed with big pharmaceutical companies, which surreptitiously profit from the donations made by working people. Patients receive bills in code, from entrepreneurial doctors they never even saw. 

The system is in tatters, but we can fight back. Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal doesn't just explain the symptoms, she diagnoses and treats the disease itself. In clear and practical terms, she spells out exactly how to decode medical doublespeak, avoid the pitfalls of the pharmaceuticals racket, and get the care you and your family deserve. She takes you inside the doctor-patient relationship and to hospital C-suites, explaining step-by-step the workings of a system badly lacking transparency. This is about what we can do, as individual patients, both to navigate the maze that is American healthcare and also to demand far-reaching reform. An American Sickness is the frontline defense against a healthcare system that no longer has our well-being at heart.

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"Every once in a while a book comes along that rocks the foundations of an established order that's seriously in need of being shaken. The modern American hospital is that establishment and Unaccountable is that book."
—Shannon Brownlee, author of Overtreated

Dr. Marty Makary is co-developer of the life-saving checklist outlined in Atul Gawande's bestseller The Checklist Manifesto. A Johns Hopkins surgeon and professor of public health, he can testify to the amazing power of modern medicine to cure. But he's also been a witness to a a system that frustrates doctors and patients alike. Dr. Makary describes the problem and presents disruptive innovations from success stories around the U.S. The ideas are powerful, but even more important, they are home-grown by the doctors on the front-lines of American healthcare. Unaccountable is a powerful, no-nonsense, non-partisan diagnosis for healing our hospitals and reforming our broken healthcare system.

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