American Health Care Killed My Father: David Goldhill on How Consumer-Driven Medicine Saves Lives


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In 2007, David Goldhill's father was admitted to a New York City hospital with pneumonia, and five weeks later he died there from multiple hospital-acquired infections. "I probably would have been like any other family member dealing with the grief and disbelief," says Goldhill, a self-described liberal Democrat who is currently the CEO of the Game Show Network. "But," as Goldhill recounts,

A month later there was a profile in The New Yorker of physician Peter Provonost, who was running around the country with fairly simple steps for cleanliness and hygiene that could significantly reduce the hospital-acquired infection rate, but he was having a hard time getting hospitals to sign up for this. I had helped run a movie chain, and we had a rule that if a soda spilled, it had to be cleaned up in five minutes or someone got in trouble. And I thought to myself, if we can do that to get you not to go to the theater across the street, why are hospitals having such a hard time doing simple cost-free things to save lives?

That's how Goldhill first got interested in the economics of the American health care system. In 2009, he published a much-discussed article in The Atlantic, which he has now expanded into a book, titled Catastrophic Care: How American Health Care Killed My Father–and How We Can Fix It.

Goldhill argues that the major problem in health care is a system of incentives that puts most of the purchasing power in the hands of insurance companies and the government, while cutting patients out of the equation. This system isn't just costing us a lot of money, it's killing us. As Goldhill explains, there's a direct link between the way we pay for health care and the estimated 100,000 patients in the U.S. who die every year from infections they picked up in hospital.

Reason TV Contributor Kmele Foster sat down with Goldhill to discuss the problems in our health care system and why turning patients back into customers will go a long way towards solving them.

Produced, shot, and edited by Jim Epstein. Additional camera by Anthony Fisher.

About 30 minutes.

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