Courageous Conversations Reads: Health Care

Additional reading for February 2022’s Courageous Conversations on Health Care.

February 5, 2022

For more information, required reading, and optional articles/podcasts, visit February’s Courageous Conversations: Health Care event page.


The American health care paradox

The American Health Care Paradox
Why Spending More is Getting Us Less

Elizabeth H. Bradley, Lauren A. Taylor

Considers the issues in the United States health care system and identifies lack of social services, outdated care allocations, and a resistance to government programs as the root causes of the problems.

An American sickness

An American Sickness
How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back

Elisabeth Rosenthal

An award-winning New York Times reporter reveals expensive dysfunctions in America’s healthcare system, outlining practical guidelines for recognizing misleading information and obtaining the care and pharmaceuticals needed to safeguard family health interests.

America's bitter pill

America’s Bitter Pill
Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System

Steven Brill

Relates the story of the fight to pass and implement the Affordable Care Act, discussing the healthcare industry abuses it was intended to change and how it has succeeded or failed to do so.

Catastrophic care

Catastrophic Care
How American Health Care Killed My Father—And How We Can Fix It

David Goldhill

An investigation into America’s failing health-care industry shares the story of the author’s tragic experience of losing his father to hospital-acquired infections, arguing against the expansion of insurance coverage while recommending a comprehensive, patient-empowering approach that renders health care transparent, affordable and effective.

The emergency

The Emergency
A Year of Healing and Heartbreak in a Chicago ER

Thomas Fisher

From a renowned emergency room doctor and healthcare policy expert comes the riveting story of a year in the life of an emergency room on the South Side of Chicago during a pandemic.

The hospital

The Hospital
Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town

Brian Alexander

An intimate, heart wrenching portrait of one small hospital that reveals the magnitude of America’s health care crises. By following the struggle for survival of one small-town hospital, and the patients who walk, or are carried, through its doors, The Hospital takes readers into the world of the American medical industry in a way no book has done before.


Deep Medicine and the Anatomy of Injustice

Rupa Marya, Raj Patel

Raj Patel, the New York Times bestselling author of The Value of Nothing, teams up with physician, activist, and co-founder of the Do No Harm Coalition Rupa Marya to reveal the links between health and structural injustices—and to offer a new deep medicine that can heal our bodies and our world.

Never pay the first bill

Never Pay the First Bill
And Other Ways to Fight the Health Care System and Win

Marshall Allen

Drawing on 15 years of investigating the health care industry, an award-winning ProPublica reporter, in this guerilla guide to health care the American people and employers need, reveals how companies and individuals have managed to force medical providers to play fair, and shows how you can, too.

No apparent distress

No Apparent Distress
A Doctor’s Coming-Of-Age on the Front Lines of American Medicine

Rachel Pearson

Based on the author’s viral essay, a fifth-generation Texan, humanities expert and Seattle Children’s Hospital pediatrician presents a brutally frank memoir about the realities of America’s medical system and how it subjects the underprivileged to high risks.

Old and sick in America

Old and Sick in America
The Journey Through the Health Care System

Muriel R. Gillick

A scholar who has practiced medicine for over thirty years, Gillick offers readers an informed and straightforward view of health care from the ground up, revealing that many crucial medical decisions are based not on what is best for the patient but rather on outside forces, sometimes to the detriment of patient health and quality of life. Gillick suggests a broadly imagined patient-centered reform of the health care system with Medicare as the engine of change, a transformation that would be mediated through accountability, cost-effectiveness, and culture change.

Prepare to defend yourself

Prepare to Defend Yourself
How to Navigate the Healthcare System and Escape With Your Life

Matthew Minson

Matthew Minson, a physician and disaster medicine and healthcare policy expert, pulls back the examination room curtain on the healthcare system, empowering patients and their families to become proactive and knowledgeable users of medical services.

Prescription for the people

Prescription for the People
An Activist’s Guide to Making Medicine Affordable for All

Fran Quigley

In Prescription for the People, Fran Quigley diagnoses our inability to get medicines to the people who need them and then prescribes the cure. He delivers a clear and convincing argument for a complete shift in the global and U.S. approach to developing and providing essential medicines—and a primer on how to make that change happen. Globally…


The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response

Andy Slavitt

The former head of Obamacare presents an inside account of the US’s failed response to the Coronavirus pandemic, chronicling what he saw and how much could have been prevented, and investigating the cultural, political, and economic drivers that led to unnecessary loss of life.

The price of health

The Price of Health
The Modern Pharmaceutical Enterprise and the Betrayal of a History of Care

Michael Kinch, Lori Weiman

The Price of Health reveals the story of how the pharmaceutical enterprise took shape and led to the present crisis. The reputation of the pharmaceutical industry is suffering from self-inflicted wounds and its continued viability, indeed survival, is increasingly questioned. Yet the drug makers do not shoulder all the blame or responsibility for the current price crisis. Deeply researched, The Price of Heatlh gives us hope as to how we can still right the ship, even amidst the roiling storm of a globalpandemic.

The price we pay

The Price We Pay
What Broke American Health Care—And How to Fix It

Marty Makary

The best-selling author of Accountable presents an urgent critique of America’s broken health-care system that provides compelling examples that explain why health care has become a financial crisis, counseling readers and business leaders on how to secure better deals.


Curing the Healthcare Crisis

John C. Goodman

In the groundbreaking book Priceless, renowned healthcare economist John Goodman reveals how patients, healthcare providers, employers, and employees are all trapped in a dysfunctional, bureaucratic, healthcare system fraught with perverse incentives that raise costs, reduce quality, and make care less accessible.

Reinventing American health care

Reinventing American Health Care
How the Affordable Care Act Will Improve Our Terribly Complex, Blatantly Unjust, Outrageously Expensive, Grossly Inefficient, Error Prone System

Ezekiel J. Emanuel

A health policy expert explains the American health care system and five problems that work against any attempts to reform it, and discusses how the Affordable Care Act was passed and how it will positively affect future health care.

The slippery slope of healthcare

The Slippery Slope of Healthcare
Why Bad Things Happen to Healthy Patients and How to Avoid Them

Steven Z. Kussin

A slippery slope describes how events progress from an initially innocent step to a cascade of subsequent misfortunes that are increasingly inevitable, difficult to stop, and more harmful than the last. In the attempt to improve what is already just fine, patients can unknowingly find themselves on this slope. This book shows them how to avoid it.

The ten year war

The Ten Year War
Obamacare and the Unfinished Crusade for Universal Coverage

Jonathan Cohn

This definite account of the history of Obamacare examines the battle to pass the most sweeping and consequential law in modern American history and the dangerous shifts it has caused in American politics.


What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care

Marty Makary

A co-developer of the medical care list outlined in Atul Gawande’s best-selling The Checklist Manifesto presents an urgent call for action that advocates more transparent, democratic and safer healthcare practices to keep patients better informed and hold poor-performing doctors and flawed systems accountable.

Where does it hurt?

Where Does It Hurt?
An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Fixing Health Care

Jonathan Bush

The CEO of Athenahealth reflects on his journey from ambulance driver to CEO and outlines a blueprint for improving the current health-care system through innovation, less regulation, and a wider range of customer choices.