Jonathan Cohn is a veteran journalist who specializes in politics and domestic policy. His primary focus, health care, is the subject of Sick: The Untold Story of America's Health Care Crisis - and the People Who Pay the Price, a book that serves as the definitive guide to the forthcoming debate over whether, and how, to reform the U.S. health insurance system. Sick won the Harry Chapin Media Award, which recognizes the year's best coverage of poverty-related issues. It was also named a finalist for the New York Public Library's Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism, and a finalist for the 2008 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. The Chicago Tribune listed Sick among its "Best Books of 2007." Widely respected for his engaging writing style and ability to make complex issues seem simple, Cohn is a lively speaker who particularly relishes opportunities to make a case for his generally (but not always) liberal views to more conservative audiences. Since the publication of Sick he has become a widely sought after speaker and has given talks to health care companies and organizations and activist groups across the country.
Cohn is a senior editor for The New Republic, the political magazine where he has been writing and editing articles for 10 years. He is a contributing editor of the American Prospect, where he once served as the executive editor, as well as a senior fellow at Demos, a think-tank based in New York City. Over the years, his articles have also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Slate, Mother Jones, and the Washington Monthly.
Sick is the product of original research and reporting that spanned five years. In the book Cohn introduces readers to eight average Americans struggling to find affordable medical care, then follows them as they deal with the (frequently tragic) consequences. Along the way, he weaves in a comprehensive history of health insurance in America, going back to its origins in the late 1920s. He ends with a look to the future – and the fate that will befall even more Americans if medical coverage continues to deteriorate. Cohn provides a detailed argument in favor of universal health insurance, financed by taxes and administered by the federal government.
Cohn was interviewed on CNN’s Larry King Live, NPR’s Fresh Air, ABC News, and Your World with Neil Cavuto on Fox News, and countless radio shows and Web sites. Sick was covered in publications across the country, including Newsweek, the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, AARP – The Magazine, and Slate. The book earned praise from such respected authorities as physician/writer Atul Gwande, who calls it “a stunningly important book,” and journalist David Shipler, who says “Jonathan Cohn weaves personal tragedies and policy failures into a tapestry of shame. His book will infuriate you enough to make you want to scream at every member of Congress, ‘Read this!’” Cohn’s writing on health care makes him one of the media’s most respected writers on the subject: As columnist E.J. Dionne has said, “No one has thought harder about our heath care system than Jonathan Cohn, no one has written about it with such eloquence and passion, and no one has brought to one of the most difficult problems we confront his acute sense of compassion, realism and justice.”
As a political correspondent, Cohn has gotten to know and written about some of the nation’s most intriguing figures: His 2002 New Republic profile of Howard Dean introduced the then-unknown Vermont governor to the nation; his 2003 profile of Bill Frist was the first to plumb the senator’s medical career for insights into his political views. Other areas that Cohn has covered extensively include globalization, labor unions, and media bias. Work-family issues are another frequent subject of his writing: One of his most popular articles remains an essay he wrote about his efforts to balance fatherhood, career, and respect for the work of his wife, who has a Ph.D. in industrial engineering.
Cohn is a graduate of Harvard University, where he was president of the Harvard Crimson, and a past media fellow with the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.He grew up in South Florida and spent most of his adult life in Boston. He now lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with his wife and children.
Praise for Jonathan Cohn:
“Jonathan was an excellent addition to our program and did a great job in presenting his material, gauging the audience correctly and provoking opinion and discussion. Our invited guests were impressed with his knowledge, his insight and his position on the subject matter. He handled himself very professionally and again, contributed significantly to the success of our function.”
—Jeff Markle, President & COO Human Arc Corporation
“[Jonathan’s] presentation was informative, thorough and direct, cutting through the rhetoric to the heart of healthcare for Americans. We especially appreciate how [he] thought through the connection between health policy and the role Medical Humanities can play.”
- Event Co-Chairs for Drew University’s Medical Humanities Symposium: Public Health, Technology, and Culture
“In a period of relentless misinformation, everyone appreciated receiving a thoroughly researched, accurate depiction of the past and future of America’s health care system. [Jonathan’s] presentation had the whole conference talking.”
—John J. Flynn, President, International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers
Praise for Sick
“Jonathan Cohn’s Sick is an eye-opening work on healthcare in America told through the stories of those in need. This book will serve as the touchstone in our efforts to improve an ailing system.”
—Jerome Groopman, author of The Anatomy of Hope
“Sick is one of those rare books that combines the personal with the sharply analytical.”
—Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights
“In Sick, Jonathan Cohn . . . has written a call-to-arms for a complete transformation of American medicine.”
—Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here
“Each chapter of Cohn’s book is devoted to one or two patient narratives that illuminate a particular dysfunction of the present medical system. . . . The result is an 80-year chronology of repeated market failure, with each successive reform serving at best as temporary respite from the previous problem. Read it and weep.”
“A terrific new book on our dysfunctional health care system.”
—Paul Krugman, the New York Times
“An important book…Cohn lucidly shows how America’s system for financing medical care helps determine who gets proper medical attention—and who doesn’t…Sick is much more than a meticulously drawn and moving compilation of crises. It is also an edifying primer on how we got here.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Sick focuses in heart-rending detail on nine stories, the kind which may well find their way into stump speeches in 2008. Cohn brings a fresher perspective to the health care debate.”
“Sick may be the first book on health-care policy that might accurately be described as ‘a good read.’ It’s filled with well-reported individual stories about various medical crises and some nicely summarized background detail on how our current health system evolved.”
“A gripping account of our broken health care system. With his characteristic humanity, Cohn explores the struggles of everyday Americans to secure affordable health care and trumpets the call for reform. There’s a rising movement for change, and Sick will be its bible.”
“Heart-wrenching. . . . Cohn tells his stories with compassion and rich detail, vividly demonstrating how the cost of health care threatens not only the finances of ordinary Americans but, quite literally, their very survival.”
“Mr. Cohn relates vignette after wrenching vignette of real folks’ experiences to illustrate, in human terms, what can happen when insurance – and health care – fails those who fall between the cracks.”
—Wall Street Journal
“A brilliant new book analyzing our health care system. Cohn tells some remarkable stories of people who are suffering because of the system. I would recommend it for anybody who has any interest in the current health system and its crisis.”
—Tim Johnson, ABC News
“Sick delivers. Its eight expository chapters deftly interweave discussions of health care policy and history with personal stories of people who have been pricked by the system’s sharpest brambles, with each story humanizing a specific shortcoming of our crrent system.
—Michael Tomasky, Washington Post Book World
“Cohn offers a uniquely thorough diagnosis of the problems we face. . . . He manages his stories to great effect, ably describing people left without options or hope in their hour of need. He has also high-lighted the right problems.”
“Sick is no weighty tome full of academic analysis; it is a relatively concise, readable, human-centered tale of woe, money, bureaucracy, medical science and good intentions. . . One strength of Sick is that Cohn illustrates his factual and historical information with real-life stories, albeit invariably sad ones.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Note to Americans: Read Jonathan Cohn’s book for a vivid, and frequently terrifying, account of what fate could await you, your family and your friends. . . . Cohn can relate – blessedly, in accessible language – the financial intricacies of every important health-care reform of the 20th century.”
“Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic is one of the best health-care writers out there. In his book Sick, he travels around the country, exposing the problems with today’s system and offering ideas for reform. ‘The timing of this book is perfect,’ Sally Satel wrote in the Times Book Review.”
- David Leonhardt, the New York Times