Excerpt: 'The Truth About Getting Sick in America' by Dr. Timothy Johnson

Dr. Tim takes a look at what American health care really is.

ByABC News via logo
September 28, 2009, 2:27 PM

Oct. 28, 2010 — -- In his new book, "The Truth About Getting Sick in America," ABC News' senior medical contributor Dr. Timothy Johnson gets on the ground level, to tackle one of the country's most controversial topics: health care, on a personal level.

Read an excerpt of the book below, and then head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.


"We Americans have the best health care in the world." That's what politicians tell us. And if you are (a) wealthy, (b) well insured, and/or (c) have the right connections, you have probably experienced the truth of that statement. But many of us also know people who do not fall into those categories and who have had great difficulty in getting timely, quality medical care.

And as a result of the ongoing and heated debate about health care reform, we also hear that other countries have health care just as good as ours, provide health insurance to all their citizens—and do so at a significantly lower cost. So what is the truth? Do we Americans really have "the best health care in the world"? And if we truly have the best, why does it need reform?

Alas, when the subject of reform comes up, we usually find ourselves awash in a tsunami of political posturing and caustic catchphrases, such as "government takeover," "market mayhem," or "death panels"— all of which are calculated to scare the daylights out of us, so we stop thinking about the underlying issues. But we need to start thinking and start talking.

I recognize that for most Americans, finding out "the truth" about current problems orpossible fixes is virtually impossible amid all the emotionally charged rhetoric. If you're in that camp, I would like to reach out and help you.

I have reported on health for ABC News part-time since 1975, when I joined a new program called "Good Morning America," and full-time since 1984, when I became the Medical Editor of ABC News. Until the late 1990s, the majority of my time was spent on reporting and commenting about new developments in clinical medicine (such as an innovative technique for treating heart disease or a new drug for cancer) and promoting old ideas for good health (such as the importance of good nutrition and regular exercise).