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Harvard Book Store welcomes LUKE MESSAC—an emergency physician and historian at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School—to discuss his new book Your Money or Your Life: Debt Collection in American Medicine. He will be joined in conversation by SALMAAN KESHAVJEE, Professor of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.
About Your Money or Your Life
For the crime of falling sick without wealth, Americans today face lawsuits, wage garnishment, home foreclosure, and even jail time.
Yet who really profits from aggressive medical debt collection? And how does this predatory system affect patients and doctors responsible for their care?
Your Money or Your Life reveals how medical debt collection became a multibillion-dollar industry and how everyday Americans are made to pay the price. Emergency physician and historian Luke Messac weaves patient stories into a history of law, finance, and medicine to show how debt and debt collection are destroying the foundational trust between doctors and patients at the heart of American healthcare. The fight to stop aggressive collection tactics has brought together people from all corners of the political spectrum. But if we want to better protect the sick from financial ruin, we have to understand how we got here.
With wit and clarity, Your Money or Your Life asks us all to rethink the purpose of our modern healthcare system and consider whom it truly serves.
Praise for Your Money or Your Life
“A crystal-clear critique of the travesty of profit-driven US medicine by a historian drawing on archives, oral history, public records, and his own ethnographic experience as a doctor delivering emergency care medicine for a typically predatory ‘non-profit hospital’ that bankrupts its poorest, most vulnerable patients. All medical students should read this book to prevent themselves from inadvertently becoming cogs in a monstrous wheel that indebts their lowest income patients.” —Philippe Bourgois, Author of In Search of Respect: Selling Crack in El Barrio and Co-Author of Righteous Dopefiend
“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the impetus for transforming the American health care system is more urgent than ever. Doctor and historian Luke Messac shows how the system has been warped by growing financialization and profiteering, with disastrous consequences for the millions of people struggling with medical debt. Both infuriating and illuminating, he paints a portrait too compelling to ignore.” —Dave A. Chokshi, 43rd Health Commissioner of New York City
“Your Money or Your Life offers a rare, deeply powerful, and impressively original look at the roots of medical greed and how and why health care debt is driving down the health of our nation. This book is a passionate and inspiring expression of the importance of empowering community leaders and their residents to advocate for affordable, accessible, and equitable health care before it’s too late. It provides the roadmap, now it’s up to all of us to heed the charge.” —Daniel E. Dawes, Author of The Political Determinants of Health
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