Old and Sick in America

The Journey through the Health Care System

By Muriel R. Gillick, M.D.

326 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-3524-8
    Published: October 2017
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-3523-1
    Published: October 2017
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-3525-5
    Published: October 2017
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5015-7
    Published: October 2017

Studies in Social Medicine

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Since the introduction of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965, the American health care system has steadily grown in size and complexity. Muriel R. Gillick takes readers on a narrative tour of American health care, incorporating the stories of older patients as they travel from the doctor's office to the hospital to the skilled nursing facility, and examining the influence of forces as diverse as pharmaceutical corporations, device manufacturers, and health insurance companies on their experience. 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.

About the Author

Muriel R. Gillick, M.D., is a member of the Division of Aging at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School.
For more information about Muriel R. Gillick, M.D., visit the Author Page.


“With passion and skill, this book offers providers and consumers of health care a rare apolitical analysis of important aspects of the health-care system and how it might be improved.”--Library Journal

“With this book, Muriel R. Gillick offers a satisfying balance of insight, compassion, and evidence about the many ways that Medicare has transformed the way older Americans live and die. Fusing the skills of the social scientist with those of a physician, Gillick combines compelling personal stories and clear-eyed analysis into a very readable whole. Old and Sick in America is a book that those of us with elderly relatives, or on Medicare ourselves, need to read.” -- Nancy Tomes, author of Remaking the American Patient

"Old and Sick in America is timely, highly original, and critically important. Everyone who goes to a doctor or hospital will want to know what is in this book." --Sharon Kaufman, University of California, San Francisco