Can the man who brings reruns of “Family Feud” and “The Newlywed Game” into our living rooms fix our healthcare crisis?
David Goldhill, president of the Game Show Network, has spent the winter promoting his book, Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father—And How We Can Fix It. Goldhill is not a doctor or any other kind of healthcare professional. He is not a professional journalist. He holds degrees in history and is a businessman.
Despite his lack of credentials in the healthcare field, he believes he has the answer to solving the nation’s healthcare crisis. And there are people who are listening.
Goldhill’s interest in the subject began when his father died of an infection while in a hospital. That devastating event launched Goldhill on his crusade. In 2009 Goldhill published an article in The Atlantic, which in turn spawned a full-length book on the subject.
Goldhill’s premise is that universal insurance coverage for Americans is only part of the answer to reducing healthcare costs. There also must be a component where patients, the consumers of healthcare, are more aware of and responsible for the cost of their care. The problem is that the nation has institutionalized the middle man who obscures those costs, that is insurers and government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
In a recent New York Times op-ed article, Goldhill described a new employee and her perception of her health costs:
My new employee thinks that she is paying roughly $2,600 for health care in her first year on the job — her $500 deductible plus her $2,100 share of the company’s health insurance premiums. In fact, she’s paying more than $10,000 into the country’s health care system. As her employer, our company will pay $6,190 of her health care costs, money that might otherwise go to her in salary. (From my point of view as a chief executive of a company, health care is just a different form of compensation.) She is also paying more than $1,500 in federal and state taxes to finance Medicare and Medicaid.
“Consumer ignorance,” Goldhill argues, is why healthcare prices are so high. “If people understood how much they were paying for health care, they would insist on greater control of these resources, creating incentives for the kind of competition in price and quality we have seen develop in other industries — even those that were once assumed to be too complex for the average consumer to readily understand, such as personal computing,” he writes.
Instead of providing insurance for total care, “let’s give every American health insurance, but only for truly rare, major and unpredictable illnesses,” he writes. “In other words, let’s cover everyone but not everything.”
Reaction to Goldhill’s book has been mixed. Those reviewers that have been especially critical have been those who espouse their own solution for containing healthcare costs.
Goldhill recently was on The Colbert Report, and despite the serious, even melancholy, nature of the subject matter, the host was still able to produce an entertaining few minutes.
Purchase Goldhill’s book, Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father—And How We Can Fix It, at Amazon.