Lives at Risk: Single-Payer National Health Insurance Around the World 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0742541528
ISBN-10: 0742541525
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Editorial Reviews


Thoroughly examines the systemic failures of national health insurance programs around the world. It identifies problems inherent in government-run health care and explains why these problems inevitably emerge. And, it demolishes one by one the prevailing myths put forward by advocates of national health insurance as the solution to issues confronting American health care. (Coverings)

The American Medical Association strongly opposes single-payer national health insurance. Lives at Risk provides a wealth of evidence that confirms the AMA's position. (Donald J. Palmisano, M.D., J.D.)

This book will be an eye-opener for anyone who thinks a government-run system is the solution for our health care problem. (Newt Gingrich)

With the alarming escalation in the cost of health care, drastic changes are critically needed. Lives at Risk not only presents the magnitude of this problem, but explores possible solutions, including national insurance, to correct it. This is the best book I have read on this subject. (Kenneth H. Cooper, M.D., M.P.H.)

A single-payer system has great political appeal. It promises to provide quality health care to all, regardless of income, religion, race, or initial state of health. But does it live up to that promise? In this important book, Goodman, Musgrave, and Herrick set out to find the answer. (from the Foreword by Milton Friedman)

Anybody who is tempted by the Canada [single-payer health insurance] model should read Lives at Risk. (National Review)

Recommended. (Choice)

If you're looking for intellectual ammunition to refute the perennial myths about the triumph of socialized medicine in the rest of the developed world, this book is essential. (Journal Of American Medical Association)

Goodman, Musgrave and Herrick do not just make a hard-boiled assessment of single-payer systems, then run for cover. Instead of the usual worn-out generalities and obsolete assumptions, they point to specific ways to harness the intelligence of consumers and the power of the free market to improve health care in the U.S.. Regardless of whether the reader agrees with the authors' conclusions, Lives at Risk helps us to understand how different policy approaches might lead to two very different outcomes for the U.S. health care system: complete meltdown under single-payer health care or transformation into a system driven by consumer demand instead of health care bureaucrats and political expediency. (Health Insurance Underwriter)

Goodman and company's book does an especially good job of casting doubt on the common belief that more governmental control of health care will prove more rational, productive, and fair than our current market-state mix. (Reason)

About the Author

John C. Goodman is the founder and president of the National Center for Policy Analysis. The Wall Street Journal called Dr. Goodman "the father of Medical Savings Accounts," and National Journal declared him "winner of the devolution derby" because his ideas on ways to transfer power from government to the people have had a significant impact on Capitol Hill. He is the author of seven books.

Gerald L. Musgrave is president of Economics America, Inc., a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis, and a fellow at the National Association of Business Economists and chairman of its Health Economics Roundtable. Dr. Musgrave has written widely on health care and other issues and is the author or co-author of more than 60 publications.

Devon M. Herrick is senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 1 edition (August 13, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742541525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742541528
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,718,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John C. Goodman is President of the National Center for Policy Analysis, Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, and author of Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis. The Wall Street Journal and the National Journal, among other media, have called him the "Father of Health Savings Accounts." He is also the Kellye Wright Fellow in health care. The mission of the Wright Fellowship is to promote a more patient-centered, consumer-driven health care system.

Dr. Goodman's health policy blog is the premier right-of-center health care blog on the Internet. It is the only place where pro-free enterprise, private sector solutions to health care problems are routinely examined and debated by top health policy experts throughout the country-conservative, moderate and liberal.

Goodman regularly appears on television and radio news and talk programs and authors editorials on economic policy issues. He regularly appears on the FOX News Channel, CNN, FOX Business Network and CNBC. He's also appeared on the Lehrer News Hour (PBS) and was a debater on many of William F. Buckley's Firing Line programs. Goodman also regularly contributes columns to The Wall Street Journal, Kaiser Health News and other national publications.

Dr. Goodman also was the pivotal lead expert in the NCPA's grassroots public policy campaign, "Free Our Health Care Now," an unsurpassed national education effort to communicate patient-centered alternatives to a government-run health care system. The initiative resulted in the largest online petition ever delivered on Capitol Hill.

He is frequently invited to testify before Congress on health care reform and retirement topics and is the author of more than 50 published studies on topics such as health policy, retirement reform and tax issues and nine books, including Lives at Risk: Single Payer National Health Insurance Around the World; Leaving Women Behind: Modern Families, Outdated Laws; and the trailblazing Patient Power: Solving America's Health Care Crisis, the condensed version of which sold more than 300,000 copies.

A native of Waco, Texas, Goodman became interested in economics and classical liberal ideas while an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin, where he became vice president of the student body. He is a crossword puzzle aficionado, and most days he is able to conquer the puzzles in The New York Times in ink.

Goodman received his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University, and has taught and done research at Columbia, Stanford University, Dartmouth University, Southern Methodist University and the University of Dallas.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Robert F. Graboyes on November 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
LIVES AT RISK is a must read for anyone interested in reforming the U.S. health care system. Goodman, Musgrave, and Herrick, stern critics of the existing system, warn against looking to Canada, the U.K., and other single-payer systems for solutions. ..... Opponents of single-payer insurance will find their views strongly validated by the mountains of carefully documented evidence in LIVES AT RISK. At the same time, open-minded proponents will learn the weaknesses in what they advocate; the book will lead some to rethink their support, and others to work harder in honing their arguments. Either way, the single-payer proponent who reads this book will become a smarter advocate of whatever views he holds afterwards. ..... LIVES AT RISK calmly, carefully catalogs and eviscerates widely held beliefs about the virtues of single-payer schemes. The authors methodically reveal how claims diverge from reality. The evidence in LIVES AT RISK paints a sharp contrast between the current American system (which the authors wish to change) and the single-payer systems abroad. Single-payer systems solemnly pledge that all citizens have a right to health care, whereas America does not. Yet by measure after measure, it is America that provides more complete, more egalitarian, more high-quality health care than do single-payer systems. Single-payer proponents argue that Canada, Britain, and others deliver health care more cheaply, more efficiently, and more equitably, but in LIVES AT RISK these lofty claims dissolve beneath the data. Again, a reasoned proponent of single-payer insurance can dispute the data presented, but he will have to work harder to do so, and that will enrich the public debate we need. .....Read more ›
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40 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Conrad F. Meier on January 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
There is little disagreement among stakeholders in the U.S. health care system--patients, insurers, physicians, policy analysts, and the like--that America's health care system must change to adjust to the twenty-first century. But what to do?

Some observers advocate a return to the fee-for-service health care arrangement that prevailed in the 1950s. Others want to move in the opposite direction, toward the government-run health care bureaucracies common in other developed countries.

Advocates of the latter approach, known as universal or single-payer health insurance, are a minority in the U.S. health policy debate--but they are vocal and well-funded. In Lives at Risk, John Goodman, Gerald Musgrave, and Devon Herrick urge that we disregard pleas for such a drastic change in our approach to health care until we carefully consider whether such a system--failing in every country where it currently exists--could possibly be effective and efficient for the U.S.

Goodman is founder and president of the Dallas, Texas-based National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA); Musgrave and Herrick are NCPA senior fellows. In Lives at Risk, they examine in microscopic detail the many flaws in the structure of single-payer health insurance, and they provide evidence that single-payer social policy is not in the best interest of consumers.

They explain, for example, how universal health insurance systems encourage over-consumption by patients, and how such over-consumption always leads to financial crises and broken promises of universal access and quality care. "One of the cardinal beliefs of advocates of single-payer health insurance is that health care should be free at the point of consumption, regardless of willingness or ability to pay," they write.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful By William G. Irwin on October 14, 2004
Format: Paperback
John Goodman have provided an impressive and accurate explanation of the failures of government dominated health care as seen from the data from those western countries which have adopted this model. They also present an outline of perhaps the only viable alternative. Succinctly written, the book should be read by every professional in the trenches and certainly every policy-maker.

W. G. Irwin,M.D.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Prof. Richard on May 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
Goodman and associates provide a valuable alternative look inside the single-payer, national, universal access health systems of Europe and Canada. This book is long overdue.

I teach a college class in comparative health systems that contrasts the U.S. health system with those of other nations and I use this book as an alternative text. I warn students that it is a polemic; Goodman is on a mission. But since the great mass of academic texts are written by professors in love with Europe and in contempt of the U.S. failure to insure 43 million citizens, this book is a welcome splash of cold water in the face.

The problem is that neither Europe nor the U.S. have solved moral hazard. As long as government, or our tax-subsidized employer, is pre-paying our healthcare, and we can leave your wallet at home and demand all the tests and treatments we are allowed, we are in trouble. It is a big Las Vegas buffet and we are all high-rollers pigging out and over-eating because the tab is on the house.

The result will be disaster in Europe as the aging population increases its demands on a limited supply of younger workers. The disaster in the U.S., with Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid already on track to consume the entire federal budget, is well publicized.

Goodman solution is a revamped Health Savings Account (HSAs) that make each of us responsible.

Whether agree that HSAs are the answer, or prefer some other approach, read this book. Racing to establish universal entitlement is a recipe for univeral disaster.
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