How American Health Care Killed My Father--and How We Can Fix It
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About the author
David Goldhill is president and chief executive officer of GSN, which operates a U.S. cable television network seen in more than 75 million homes and is one of the world’s largest digital games companies. He is a member of the board of directors of The Leapfrog Group, an employer-sponsored organization dedicated to hospital safety and transparency. Goldhill graduated from Harvard University with a BA in history and holds an MA in history from New York University.
A visionary investigation that will change the way we think about health care: how and why it is failing, why expanding coverage will actually make things worse, and how our health care can be transformed into a transparent, affordable, successful system.
In 2007, David Goldhill’s father died from infections acquired in a hospital, one of more than two hundred thousand avoidable deaths per year caused by medical error. The bill was enormous—and Medicare paid it. These circumstances left Goldhill angry and determined to understand how world-class technology and personnel could coexist with such carelessness—and how a business that failed so miserably could be paid in full. Catastrophic Care is the eye-opening result.
Blending personal anecdotes and extensive research, Goldhill presents us with cogent, biting analysis that challenges the basic preconceptions that have shaped our thinking for decades. Contrasting the Island of health care with the Mainland of our economy, he demonstrates that high costs, excess medicine, terrible service, and medical error are the inevitable consequences of our insurance-based system. He explains why policy efforts to fix these problems have invariably produced perverse results, and how the new Affordable Care Act is more likely to deepen than to solve these issues.
Goldhill steps outside the incremental and wonkish debates to question the conventional wisdom blinding us to more fundamental issues. He proposes a comprehensive new way, where the customer (the patient) is first—a system focused on health and maintaining it, a system strong and vibrant enough for our future.
If you think health care is interesting only to institutes and politicians, think again: Catastrophic Care is surprising, engaging, and brimming with insights born of questions nobody has thought to ask. Above all it is a book of new ideas that can transform the way we understand a subject we often take for granted.
In the press
"David Goldhill has written a devastating and utterly original analysis of what has gone wrong with the American health care system. Read it, and take a deep breath. He will convince you that our ‘solutions’ are not solving our problems. They are making our problems worse."
"David Goldhill is a genius observer of a broken system in need of fresh ideas. His testimony and common-sense ideas are devastatingly important in light of out-of-control medical prices. A must-read for doctors, policy-makers and patients alike. Catastrophic Care is a defining book of our era, and a roadmap for fixing our country's leading debt driver. You will never see medical care the same way."
—Marty Makary, MD, best-selling author of Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won't Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Healthcare
"For those who are troubled by both the failures of our healthcare system and the misdirected diagnoses and prescriptions offered by pundits, policy experts, and politicians from across the political spectrum, David Goldhill offers a brilliant and much needed antidote. By calling out with remarkable clarity the numerous, but now almost invisible incentives and regulations that drive the dysfunction of our current system, Catastrophic Care provides an illuminating framework for understanding the crisis, and then a path to the kinds of reforms that will surely be necessary."
—Jeffrey S. Flier, Dean of the Faculty, Harvard Medical School
"[A] fascinating and infuriating expose of the American health care system . . . Goldhill persuasively argues that a consumer-driven system – which will require greater vigilance and commitment on the part of citizens in actively managing their health – is the first step toward sustainability and lower individual and government costs. . . . Goldhill's reasoned, logical alternative to the current system goes beyond political finger-pointing, and while his take is sobering, it’s one that offers sound solutions."
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"[Catastrophic Care] is powerful—edge-of-the-seat riveting—because it is not, in any sense, a policy book. Rather, this is a story about saving ourselves . . . It steps outside of the established political debate and lexicon—one of the rare books addressing a major national policy issue that is able to do so in language not already debased by the problem itself . . . Alas, healthcare civilians can't actually read most books about healthcare (and if you can, then you are part of the problem). But you can read this one."
—Michael Wolff, The Guardian
"Highly readable presentation of one businessman’s solution, likely to provoke discussion if not agreement."
“Rarely has the irrationality of the [healthcare] system been so convincingly demonstrated, including the opaque and highly inflated prices of medical care.”
—Arnold Relman, The New York Review of Books
"Thought provoking . . . A for-profit business executive who actually states that better than adequate health care should be available to all people in the country . . . As an industry outsider—neither a clinician, policymaker, or someone who works for the healthcare industry—Mr. Goldhill observes and explains the issues in an understandable manner for the layperson."
—New York Journal of Books
"The best popular health care book . . . a crystal clear account of what has gone wrong and how to fix it."
—Tyler Cowen, Holbert L. Harris Professor of Economics, George Mason University
"[A] comprehensive, thought-provoking, empirical, and well-written book."
—Matthew Continetti, The Weekly Standard
—Wayne Holliday, Decatur Daily
“Goldhill’s perspective is invaluable to the health-care discussion, elevating his personal tragedy into an impressive body of research. Written with both pain and passion, this book provides an informative and relatable treatise.”
—Elizabeth J. Eastwood, Library Journal
"Innovative . . . Goldhill presents a convincing argument in many ways, and this book already has challenged policymakers to examine his proposals.”
—William P. Moran, Charleston (SC)Post and Courier
“David Goldhill isn’t your typical policy expert. He is the chief executive officer of GSN. That’s right, the Game Show Network. What does he know about health care? Quite a bit, it turns out.”
—Chelsea Conaboy, Boston Globe, White Coat Notes