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

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  477 ratings  ·  80 reviews
A visionary and completely original investigation that will change the way we think about health care: how and why it is failing, why expanding insurance coverage will only make things worse, and how it can be transformed into a transparent, affordable, successful system.

In 2007, David Goldhill's father died from a series of infections acquired in a well-regarded New York
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published January 8th 2013 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2011)
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  477 ratings  ·  80 reviews

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Pete Welter
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
The fundamental message of Catastrophic Care is that our health care spending in the US is unsustainable because free market forces are almost entirely absent from the health care industry and bureaucracy. Wherever you are the political spectrum on the health care issue, it's worth a read to make you think more deeply about the issue.

Steven Johnson introduced the term "peer progressive" in Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age to encompass those of us (and I find myself in the
David Meyers
Oct 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
While the author makes some good points about issues in the healthcare system and the flaws within the ACA, he approaches the issue from the standpoint of privilege and his suggestions don't really hold up for the majority of Americans.
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
I'm only 50 pages in, and I pretty much want to underline every other paragraph and blog about every bit of it. So well thought-out and explained. So far, I think this should be a textbook for students and mandatory reading for every politician.
... EXCELLENT. I dog-eared so many pages and read it aloud to my husband and talked about it animatedly several times. The whole book is clear, well researched, carefully considered and easy to understand. Even for a politician. Goldhill lays out a great
John Doyle
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: healthcare
Goldhill's father died as a result of medical error in a hospital that then billed insurance and Goldhill's mother $635K for the "care." The author directed his pain and anger to an outsider's examination of America's health care system. The result is a clear, richly exemplified description of the structural features of American health care that inevitably lead to excessive cost, poor quality, and systemic disregard for the best interests of the "customer." Among the possible solutions Goldhill ...more
May 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book notes

David Goldhill is a Television CEO but became passionate about healthcare after his father died from a hospital infection. He wrote a famous article in the Atlantic How American Health Care Killed My Father about the problems with the healthcare system and how to fix it. This book was published in 2013 and is an expansion of that article; you can read the article to get the main gist of the book.

Goodhill points out many flaws with the healthcare system, from moral hazard of consumers t
Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

David Goldhill does a very good job of laying out many of the biggest issues in US health care pricing, a field I actually happen to know a lot about. From his experience running a company and being on the board of the Leapfrog Group, Goldhill is in a good position to understand the excessive, and growing, costs of our current system to individuals and companies, as well as the challenges in achieving price and quality transparency in health care.

Although he superficially comes out against the A
Jan 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Overall, I found the book to be fair and thought-provoking, but the idea of a "Wal-mart of healthcare" sounds pretty repulsive to me. If anything, the book does a good job of explaining the complexities of health care and Goldhill does have a humane approach to the subject. I guess I just don't have as much faith as the author in a health system left to the devices of the free market.
Mar 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
I wanted the book to be more of a personal story and instead it was a much more political-science based representation of American healthcare. There were some extremely interesting facts - it just wasn't what I was expecting or wanting from the read.
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Very compelling. I don't agree with everything he's proposing, but I appreciate that he brought facts, and didn't yell at me.
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The fact is that our health care payment system is completely messed up. The incentives are all out-of-whack and, as a result, we're dramatically overpaying for the level of care we receive and there is a very distinct disconnect between the consumers of healthcare and how much they think they're paying for it.

Goldhill does a very good job laying out the economic incentives inherit in our current system and also outlining your actual cost for the health care you receive - which is drastically hi
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of the best takeaways from this book is the absence of consumers in health care! This had never occurred to me and it is the basis of the "disconnect" as the author put it. We will never get anywhere until the consumer of healthcare is returned to the consumer role.

Cost vs. price of health care.
Health care in not about health, it is sick care.
Insurance is not health care.
Health insurance is a payment system for the health care we know we are going to need.
Procedures do not equal good care.
Annie Xie
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The big question this book asks is, "Is insurance the best way to finance healthcare?" Goldhill argues that for the vast majority of situations (basically anything other than an unpredictable rare disease), the answer is no.

I disagree with some of Goldhill's assumptions, both ones he acknowledges and ones he doesn't, but reading this book has drastically changed my perspective of healthcare financing and challenged my understanding of what expanding health insurance coverage achieves.

I was skep
Austin Amandolia
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Wish I could give this book a 3.5. Learned a lot about the history of health care and how we got to our current system. It's biggest fault is that it beats you over the head with negativity about how broken our system is. Although that may be justified, it can make for a tough read. Also, his chapter synopsis of his solution felt like an obligatory chapter saying, "well I brought you this far, might as well give you a solution," whereas he could have presented solutions throughout. Overall, I'd ...more
Kevin Moore
Sep 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
L. Stephen Wolfe
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Do you want to understand why the US healthcare industry is the world's most expensive while at the same time delivering poorer outcomes than those of other developed nations? Would you like to hear about a plan that would lower costs and increase healthcare availability for poor and middle class people? Then read this book. I bought multiple copies to lend to friends.
David Shelton
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Extremely compelling book that does a great job of breaking down and explaining the health care system. This book is especially valuable as the author is a democrat who recognizes that while the Affordable Care Act increased overall coverage it also extended an awful system with insurers as payment mechanism that is leading to incredible waste and poorer overall care. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially right now as Health Care is the most heated debate in our country.
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a marvellous book. Not that the content filled my heart with joy however the message that this author shared was well worth reading...and laid out in a way that even I ((a non American) could understand. Fascinating stuff. Probably the should be compulsory reading for all Americans, especially their politicians and law makers.
Claudio Mosse
Sep 29, 2017 rated it liked it
central thesis that the lack of competition for dollars drives up prices and drives down quality is sound to a degree. the recipe for the fix is missing some ingredients and will likely ruin dinner before the dessert course. it is worth the read although i question some of the economic analyses.
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Extensive rhetorics, examples, studies and research. A bit too long. Main points could have been highlighted, summarized and driven home in shorter text. But an academic, fact-driven look at healthcare market in the US
Mar 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don’t necessarily agree with all his proposed solutions. However this book does an excellent job articulating the problems of the health care industry, and pulling back the curtain on its more perverse and predatory interworkings.
Conor Hynes
Dec 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Refocuses the issue: healthcare costs are exorbitant because the natural forces that control prices do not exist in American healthcare. Tries to envision a way of designing the system to maximize natural price limits.
Christian Brucculeri
Aug 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Helped me rethink my view on the American healthcare system, and my belief that a single payer model was inevitable and the best case scenario.
Rochel Dick Plonka
Oct 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great book that explains what is so wrong with American health care. The author beats a dead horse a bit by repeating the same idea again and again. I wish he would have spent more time talking about the solutions and less time repeating the same idea over and over. His Atlantic article is the Cliff notes version, if you don't want to read the whole book.
Neil Pierson
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
If you're serious about understanding what's wrong with the U.S. health care system, this is the book for you. I stress serious, because let's face it: Non-fiction about a complex system that is crashing around us isn't exactly a beach read.

Kudos to the author, though, for making the subject very readable. You don't need any grounding in jargon or the health care system. And you get used to his style, which is to grab you by the lapels and speak LOUDLY.*

The root of the problem, the author believ
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
A little bit different perspective on the problems with our healthcare system in America than I've heard and also given from a non-medical person which had it's pros and cons. I still don't know how the system killed his father though.
Tom Hardman
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I reviewed this book on my blog. My review can be found here:

Health Care: Seeing Both Sides
Malin Friess
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Why is healthcare so costly?

1) Language matters. Why do we talk about Health Care COSTS instead of Health Care PRICES? It's wishful thinking. Is it too uncomfortable to think about putting a PRICE on grandma's care at the ED? Every bill, appointment, test, crown, filling (I'm a dentist) reflect someon's time, labor, skill. Let's call it what it is..Health Care has prices.
2) Health Care isn't Health! The bottom line is that nutrition, exercise, education,refraining from tobacco use, having a fait
Charles Berteau
Sep 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is, quite simply, an outstanding book. Health care is an incredibly complex topic, but Goldhill's approach is to keep a laser focus on incentives. His main theme is how we misguidedly treat healthcare as a unique industry, and disassociate the consumer (and his/her spending choices) from the providers, who then have no incentive to improve.

The author is a Democrat, but began to examine his predilections after watching the death of his father (who walked into a highly regarded hospital with
Daniel Barros
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for anyone who's ever wondered, "well, what exactly is so bad about our healthcare system?" In this fascinating read, David Goldhill approaches the matter of care from the lens of a business person, which I can wholly appreciate. The problems we face in healthcare today, he contends, are primarily a result of a broken marketplace for healthcare. We are not consumers in this system, we are pawns for powerful surrogates to extract profit from.

Goldhill takes us
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Phenomenal analysis of the problems of the American health care market and its out-of-control "costs." Goldhill, a self-described liberal Democrat (but also a highly successful businessman) makes a very convincing case for the need for free-market reforms. The root of the argument is simple -- if nobody making the buying decisions knows what the prices are or the real costs or values that lie behind them, no real market can function. The domination of the market by "insurance" that we expect to ...more
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“A recent Economist article on dialysis perfectly illustrates the inflationary impact of cost-plus pricing. Since U.S. clinics are paid on a cost-plus basis, they prefer to use expensive drugs rather than cheaper ones. In fact, many appear to order drugs in units that exceed what a standard dosage requires because they can charge the government for the wastage. Quoting a stock research firm, the article noted that many clinics preferred an injected drug with a price of $4,100 a year over the identical drug in oral form, priced at only $450 a year. Not surprisingly, the manufacturer of the oral drug responded by increasing its price above that of the injected version to make it more competitive!” 0 likes
“But though I admire their intentions and ambitions, I contend that they have missed the big picture: the underlying insurance-based structure of our health care system drives excess treatment, cost inflation, and medical errors. It is this structure that needs to be changed.” 0 likes
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