Rosenthal’s ‘American Sickness’ Ignores Why We’re Sick

Editor’s Note: We’re pleased to present this guest post by Jason Cooper, RN, co-owner of CrossFit Enoch.

Republicans and Democrats alike talk about saving us. They talk about providing “affordable health care.” Recently, President Trump stated, “Obamacare has broken our health-care system. It’s broken. It’s collapsing.” Shortly afterwards, Republicans drafted their grand plan of salvation, The American Health Care Act.  And it wasn’t long ago we heard President Obama proclaim, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. If you like your health-care plan, you will be able to keep your health-care plan.” Both parties claim to “represent” our interests. These are all distractions from what we are all truly seeking: health. Real health. Isn’t that what we are all talking about? Surely this is what the American Medical Association and hospitals are advocating for, right? It is not, because real health and health care are not synonymous, and real health is not found in health care.


An American Sickness
I recently read a book by Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal, “An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back.” “The system is in tatters, but we can fight back” are the words written on the inside cover.

Just a couple of pages in, she sets the tone for the entire work: “They, and all Americans, deserve better, more affordable healthcare.”

Dr. Rosenthal truly does a remarkable job chronicling the history of just that: healthcare. Yet not once in her book does she advocate for real health or explain how we can achieve that.

Dr. Rosenthal is a Harvard Medical School-trained physician who had a total of eight years at the bedside, eight years to develop the skill set she herself explains is the groundwork for her book, her assessment. And those mere eight years of bedside experience are why she misdiagnosed what we all are suffering from.

Like any good and ethical doctor, Dr. Rosenthal utilizes her skill set of writing an H&P, a history and physical, to diagnose what is wrong in her eyes with our medical system. Her H&P is very well laid out, and she lists her “chief complaint” as, “hugely expensive medical care that doesn’t reliably deliver quality results.” Her stated solution is cheaper health care.

She is very well read and she exquisitely chronicles the history of the American health-care system in detail. To the untrained eye, she misses almost nothing in her writing. She covers payment systems, hospital systems, insurance companies and physician networks in great detail. She lists several patients she “advocates” for by fighting to get their bill payments lowered. She fights for her patients to have cheaper, more affordable health care. Who benefits from cheaper health care? I contend only the ethical physicians do.

Physicians of today’s era are specifically trained in a code of ethics that actually benefits the receivers of payment. Their ethics do not benefit the health and wellness of the American patient. The distinction between ethical and unethical is difficult to assess from the shiny windows that line the hospital. It is in billing and coding that the lines between correct and incorrect conduct are drawn. And there, unethical physicians abound. The defrauding of Medicare and the American public is at an all-time high. Need I list the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been defrauded from the American taxpayer to establish the existence of this system? Many of the ethical doctors are sure that the fraud doesn’t exist. Dr. Rosenthal does assert its existence. She lists a bit of it in her book but seemingly misses so much of the money trail. To be sure, she does slam the nonprofit hospitals for using their “surplus funds” for fattening the pockets of doctors, CEOs and pharmaceutical partners. And yet, she makes no real mention of the massive for-profit hospitals and how they target us with their soda, insulin and corporate food partners.

Would Dr. Rosenthal’s goal of cheaper health care actually make America healthier? It would not. The author makes not one mention of how we can end our sickness. She only advocates for making sickness more affordable. “Faced with disease, we are all potential victims of medical extortion,” Dr. Rosenthal states. Her entire book is about educating readers about some of the extortion taking place, and yet she does not provide insight into how we limit or end the chronic diseases that make us vulnerable to that extortion.

This is not surprising considering that in 2013, the American Medical Association voted to make obesity a disease. Yeah, they just voted on it. Her former colleagues at the New York Times wrote about it here. I picture it like this: “All in favor of considering obesity our next target market say ‘Aye.’” The AMA’s plan was to support the obesity epidemic with more medication and “affordable” health care. Affordable sickness.

Like Jason Bateman’s character in the Netflix series “Ozark,” Dr. Rosenthal cooks the books by not talking about the for-profit hospital systems, their partnerships with food, pharma, soda, and how they target us for profit. She fails to mention how good ethical business-minded physicians target the obese and the chronically ill for profit, just the same as unethical physicians do. In a system that ignores and profits from the causes of disease, even physicians who play by the ethical rules are exploiting sickness.

A Transparent Assessment

What Dr. Rosenthal has done is what many good and apparently ethical physicians are doing. She has misdiagnosed the problem. As a critical care nurse with 16 clinical years at the bedside inside the most advanced ICUs on planet Earth, I have been trained to see what no one else sees. ICU nurses are the forward observers in the fight against chronic disease. We have no rival.

After putting hundreds upon hundreds in body bags, I have assessed that chronic disease is what our fight is really against. It is not with the insurance companies, the hospitals, or with the unethical physicians defrauding us all. They are all doing what they are trained to do. And none of them can save us. Their system is not broken; it is designed to profit and is working wonderfully. Their system is obsolete, though, when it comes to health. They are all trained to see chronic disease and treat it. None of them seeks to end it—according to her book, not even Dr. Rosenthal.

You see, the unethical doctor will target you for an illness, and 70 to 80 percent of those cases of illness are food-driven. He will “treat you” and take your money for all he can. And the ethical physician will “treat you” and only bill you for what is deemed a fair price. Even the ethical physicians change nothing except the bottom line of your bill. You stay sick.

The Pursuit of Real Health

According to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, there are 923,308 doctors in the country. I’ll let you decide how many are ethical. Remember that medical ethics lie mostly in the billing. If you are pursuing cheaper health care, my suggestion as a highly experienced ICU nurse is to find an ethical physician. The physicians and hospitals are experts in health care, but health care can prevent us from achieving superior health. Health care will keep you on a merry-go-round of billing and sickness.

On the other hand, if you desire real health, a level of health that will keep you away from having to decide by trial and error who is ethically billing and coding you, I suggest one and only one entity: CrossFit. In the delivery of elite fitness and real health, there is no rival. Presently, there are 132,000 CrossFit credentialed advocates, and around 80,000 in the United States. And they are all trained to end chronic disease. Some cost more than others, like doctors and hospitals, but all are trained in a program that has one mission: to end chronic disease. CrossFit ends chronic disease. Over 14,500 CrossFit locations worldwide can back up that statement. Make your choice: affordable sickness or ending chronic disease. Go, find an affiliate, and end your sickness.



  1. saorsa2018

    Great article and very well-written. However, I am disinclined to go found out what Crossfit is, since a simple active life with my dog keeps me healthy. I don’t expect to live forever, and not experience more ill-health as I get older. Part of our mental sickness is, I believe, expecting to be as healthy at 60 as we were at 20. The other part is taking pills for issues that we would be capable of tolerating and overcoming, if we led an active, healthy lifestyle and ate real food instead of the drug-junk that is offered in packets, not just for humans, but for our pets. What some lack in nutrition, they try to make up for in volume, often disregarding the fact that when you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you really don’t need three meals per day!

    • Russ Greene

      Moving/walking and avoiding junk food are great. Congratulations. They do not do enough, however, to preserve your functional capacity, muscular strength, power and speed, bone density, muscle mass, or aerobic capacity, especially as you age. This is why lifting weights, moving your own bodyweight, and metabolic conditioning are so important. And you can get all three through CrossFit, which by the way you can do either at a gym with instruction or for free on your own.

      • saorsa2018

        I hate gyms. Outdoor exercise is better than a gym because the quality of the air you’re breathing is better. Not only does it detox you physically, but it also allows you to mentally declutter. Lifting weights? I do that regularly when I go food shopping for myself and a large, athletic, hungry dog! Most of our exercise can come naturally if we live naturally. I actually know of idiots who drive to gyms…

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