Arnold Relman (1923–2014) was Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a contributor of many articles and essays to The New York Review. Marcia Angell is a Senior Lecturer in Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Arnold Relman was her husband.


A Challenge to American Doctors

The American Health Care Paradox: Why Spending More Is Getting Us Less

by Elizabeth H. Bradley and Lauren A. Taylor
It is generally agreed that poor and disadvantaged populations, such as teenaged single mothers and their children, or unemployed, uneducated, and ill-housed minorities, suffer relatively poor health. So it might seem entirely reasonable to conclude that the answer to what ails our national health system lies in paying more attention to social welfare programs, preventive measures, and education. Nevertheless, it does not persuade me, and I don’t believe it will satisfy many critics who look closely at the issues.

On Breaking One’s Neck

Arnold Relman in the surgical intensive care unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, the week after his accident. His wife, Marcia Angell, is helping him correct galleys of his August 15, 2013, article in these pages, “Obamacare: How It Should Be Fixed.”
I am a senior physician with over six decades of experience who has observed his share of critical illness—but only from the doctor’s perspective. That changed suddenly and disastrously on the morning of June 27, 2013, ten days after my ninetieth birthday, when I fell down the stairs in my home, broke my neck, and very nearly died. Since then, I have made an astonishing recovery, in the course of which I learned how it feels to be a helpless patient close to death. I also learned some things about the US medical care system that I had never fully appreciated, even though this is a subject that I have studied and written about for many years.

Obamacare: How It Should Be Fixed

President Obama with doctors and nurses at the White House after giving a speech about health care reform, March 2010

Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father—and How We Can Fix It

by David Goldhill

Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us

a special report by Steven Brill
The US health care system urgently needs fixing. It is much too expensive and inefficient, and leaves too many people with no care or inadequate care. In March 2010, the recently elected Obama administration barely managed to pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a huge and complicated collection of legislative …

A Coming Medical Revolution?

A digital mosaic of the brain, using images from X-rays, CT sans, and MRI scans

The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care

by Eric Topol
Spectacular advances in the scientific understanding of life processes since World War II have vastly increased the ability of physicians to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease. Nevertheless, even today there is much about the cause of most common diseases and their prevention or treatment that remains unknown. However, the huge …

How Doctors Could Rescue Health Care

A nurse consulting a doctor via Mr. Rounder the Robot, Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, New Jersey, 2005
The US is facing a major crisis in the cost of health care. Corrected for inflation, health expenditures in the public sector are nearly doubling each decade, and those in the private sector are increasing even more rapidly. According to virtually all economists, this financial burden, which is now consuming about 17 percent of our entire economic output (far more than in any other country), cannot be sustained much longer.