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Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis (Independent Studies in Political Economy) Hardcover – June 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"John Goodman has long been the clearest and most insightful healthcare thinker we have . . . it's time we acted on his common sense, fact-based wisdom in Priceless."  —Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana

"There's no question that today's healthcare system is littered with distorted incentives and what John Goodman calls dysfunctionality. Priceless is a call to arms to do something about it."  —Peter R. Orszag, former Director, Congressional Budget Office

"John Goodman, widely known as the father of health savings accounts, is as provocative and controversial as ever in his book, Priceless . . . interesting for all who have been frustrated in their search for a workable solution to our healthcare woes."  —Gail R. Wilensky, former Administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

"I have been following John Goodman's health policy ideas for as long as I’ve been on Capitol Hill. John's latest effort, Priceless: Curing the Health Care Crisis, makes it abundantly clear why he is a source of wisdom, insight, and innovative thinking."  —Paul Ryan, Chairman, U.S. House Budget Committee

"If liberal commentators wish to sharpen their claws, there is no better stone on which to do it than John Goodman's book Priceless.”  —Uwe E. Reinhardt, James Madison Professor of Political Economy, Princeton University

"Priceless provides fresh and original insights to help steer us into a system that harnesses individual choice, aligns price and quality, and more effectively utilizes financing to achieve these ends."  —June E. O'Neill, former Director, Congressional Budget Office; Wollman Distinguished Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Study of Business and Government, Baruch College

"Priceless is an important contribution to a market-friendly approach to reforming healthcare."  —Martin S. Feldstein, President Emeritus, National Bureau of Economic Research; George F. Baker Professor of Economics, Harvard University

"John Goodman's terrific book Priceless . . . offers a breath of fresh air in a tired healthcare debate that demonstrates once again that markets enjoy their greatest advantage in complex settings that call for imaginative solutions that no government-driven system can deliver."  —Richard A. Epstein, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law, New York University

About the Author

John C. Goodman is a research fellow at the Independent Institute and a Kellye Wright Fellow in Health Care at the National Center for Policy Analysis, of which he is president. He is the author of more than 50 studies on health policy, retirement reform, and tax issues, as well as nine books, including Leaving Women Behind: Modern Families, Outdated Laws; Lives at Risk: Single Payer National Health Insurance Around the World; and The Patient Power: Solving America's Health Care Crisis. His articles have been featured in publications such as Health Affairs, National Review, and the Wall Street Journal. He lives in Dallas, Texas.


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Product Details

  • Series: Independent Studies in Political Economy
  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Independent Institute; 1 edition (June 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598130838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598130836
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,881 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

38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By D. Herrick on June 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book, "Priceless," has a double meaning: you cannot put a price on good health; and the health care industry does not use prices to ration services the way other industries do. Public health experts and advocates for the poor generally dislike using prices in health care (which economists call "price-rationing") because advocates believe price is a barrier to accessing care. Yet, opponents of using prices generally ignore the benefits of the price system. Prices are the perfect mechanism to encourage competition on both price and quality. Price competition allows firms to differentiate their services in customer-pleasing ways. The price system also facilitates consumer-signaling of preferences and priorities in the medical services consumers receive.

The result of a health care system where prices are suppressed is easy to observe: medical inflation is three times the consumer price index; customer service in medicine is abysmal; medical care is also both inconvenient and expensive. Finally, patients without third-party payers (i.e. insurance) find it difficult to discover the price they will be charged prior to care being received and the prices charged often bear no resemblance to actual costs. These all relate to the lack of competition using (real) market-clearing prices.

Another problem of a health care system devoid of market prices is that customer-pleasing amenities that are common in other industries are not common in health care. One of the reasons medical care is so inconvenient is that third-party payers (i.e. insurers, Medicare and Medicaid) have little incentive to make it easy to consume their resources. An example Goodman uses is the telephone. The telephone has been used in all other industries for 100 years.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By R. Walker on June 18, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Terrific title. The double entendre is not only clever but trenchant. There is no silver bullet. Stopping runaway costs is the only answer. And a real market for health care, one that isn't run by third parties and special political interests, is the only way to stop the rising cost of health care. Everyone needs to read this book, especially Members of Congress,the Obama Administration and Mitt Romney's campaign.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Lemas Mitchell on November 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thanks to Reason magazine for pointing out this book for me.

Why did it take so long to write this book? Everything in it seems perfectly obvious. Maybe some supplementary reading is necessary for those who have not read up on the role of prices. A single chapter out of Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy should do. Or, alternatively one could read Basic Economics: A Common Sense Guide to the Economy/ Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics as companion texts to this. (They're all such good texts that it couldn't hurt to read them.)

Goodman does talk about this not just as a theoretical issue, but in comparison to the experience of other countries. (There are lots of other countries out there that have tried many different things.) Why not just study the results of some other countries? Singapore? (The government pays a minimum amount and if you want more than that you pay it.) Hong Kong? (Government and private hospitals are side by side. The latter keeps the former honest and provides more consumer choice.) Mainland China. (More of the same. But cash prices form 95% of all transactions and so there is no waiting.) At loc 661 he says that it is a property of complex systems that they can't be copied. But if that were true, there would be no point in setting up central banks in other countries.

Some things were very well thought out.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By REELDOC on September 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As a physician in private practice, and nearing retirement, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is written mostly form a free market perspective and takes to task both Republicans and Democrats for pursuing failing policies and Obamacare for doubling down on a complex system which is doomed to fail from the start. One of the best points Goodman makes is to distinguish between health insurance for all and access to health care; a point apparently missed by the authors of this 2,000+ monster of ill-conceived legislation. His case for more free markets and patient directed healthcare is substantially annotated. Goodman, the advocate and inspiration for HSA's (Health Savings Accounts), hits the mark most of the time with only a few areas where I disagreed. At times this tome feels too heavy and dense, and may not appeal to the casual, non-medical or public health policy, reader.
I have so many notes and highlights in my Ipad edition, that it would take me a short book to review them all. He articulates with much clarity how very different health insurance is from other forms of insurance, and how this works to the detriment of both providers and patients. At times the charts and graphs made my eyes glaze over, but no one can accuse Goodman of not documenting his point of view or of not offering alternative suggestions.

Even for the lay person who is trying to grasp this complex and tortuous subject, this is a fine work. The book was however published prior to the Supreme Court's June decision affirming Obamacare, and in this sense, there is some closure lacking.

However, all in all, this is a fantastic work and an honest attempt to look at where we are, how we got here, and a better way to improve.
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