The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis---And the People Who Pay the Price

By Jonathan Cohn
(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780060580452, 320pp.)

Publication Date: April 2007

Other Editions of This Title: Paperback

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America's health care system is unraveling. Every day, millions of hard-working people struggle to find affordable medical treatment for themselves and their families--unable to pay for prescription drugs and regular checkups, let alone hospital visits. Some of these people end up losing money. Others end up losing something even more valuable: their health or even their lives. In this powerful work of original reportage, Jonathan Cohn travels across the United States--the only country in the developed world that does not guarantee access to medical care as a right of citizenship--to investigate why this crisis is happening and to see firsthand its impact on ordinary Americans.

The stories he brings back are tragic and infuriating. In Boston, a heart attack victim becomes a casualty of emergency room overcrowding when she is turned away from the one hospital that could treat her. In South Central L.A., a security guard loses part of his vision when he can't find affordable treatment for his diabetes. In the middle of the prairie heartland, a retired meatpacker sells his house to pay for the medications that keep him and his aging wife alive. And, in a tiny village tucked into the Catskill mountains, a mother of three young children decides against a costly doctor's visit--and lets a deadly cancer go undetected--because her husband's high-tech job no longer provides health insurance.

Passionate, illuminating, and often devastating, Sick interweaves these stories with clear-eyed reporting from Washington and takes us inside the medical industry to chronicle the decline of America's health care system--and lays bare the consequences any one of us could suffer if we don't replace it.

Tuesday, Jan 12, 2010

Congress is back in session, and the health care bills are headed for a conference committee. Jonathan Cohn, who blogs about health care issues for The New Republic, joins Fresh Air for a conversation about the difference between the House and Senate bills and what a compromise might look like. More at

NPR Audio Player Requires Flash Upgrade: Please upgrade your plug-in to view this content.

Praise For Sick

"Jonathan Cohn's Sick is an eye-opening work on healthcare in America told through the stories of those in need."
-Jerome Groopman, author of The Anatomy of Hope

"This is a stunningly important book. Jonathan Cohn lays bare the tragedy of our health care system."
-Atul Gawande, author of Complications

"Cohn's book will infuriate you enough to make you want to scream at every member of Congress, 'Read this!'"
-David K. Shipler, author of The Working Poor

"A terrific new book on our dysfunctional health care system."
-Paul Krugman, The New York Times

"An 80-year chronology of repeated market failure. . . . Read it and weep."

"In Sick, Jonathan Cohn . . . has written a call-to-arms for a complete transformation of American medicine."
-Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here

Sick is one of those rare books that combines the personal with the sharply analytical.
-Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights

"No one has thought harder about our heath care system than Jonathan Cohn."
-E.J. Dionne, Jr., syndicated columnist and author of Why Americans Hate Politics

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