5 Myths About Health Care We Believe

Discover five of the many myths we believe about health care and why they need to be debunked.

| February 2015

  • “Catastrophic Care” is the eye-opening result of author David Goldhill’s determination to understand how his father could have possibly died from hospital-acquired infections when he was surrounded by well-trained personnel.
    Cover courtesy Vintage Books
  • Health care is merely one component of health. Diet, exercise and education are far more important factors in determining your quality of life.
    Photo by Fotolia/sneksy13

Catastrophic Care (Vintage Books, 2013) proposes a completely new approach that will change the way you think about one of our most pressing national problems. Author David Goldhill explodes the many myths we believe about health care. In the following excerpt, discover five of the common myths we accept and often live by.

1. “Cost” instead of “price”

In the spring of 2008, gasoline prices shot up, increasing from a national average of $2.95 a gallon to $4.05 in just five months. Consumers were up in arms; polls showed that 71 percent of Americans believed high gas prices were causing them financial hardship. And no wonder: higher prices meant the average American household would spend $1,200 more that year on gasoline.

In the same year, health care costs grew by roughly the same amount: $1,110 per American household. In fact, health care costs per household had grown by similar amounts in the two previous years: $940 in 2007 and $990 in 2006.

Why do we get so incensed over increases in gas prices yet remain so accepting of even greater increases in health care costs?

One explanation can be found in the language we use to discuss health care. Notice how we always talk about gas “prices” but health care “costs”? How often do you hear someone talk about health care “prices”? I suspect the reason for this is that with gasoline—as with every other product and service—we believe there’s an actual someone setting an actual price. We blame OPEC, or the major oil companies, or even our local service station, posting its prices on a big sign.

But in health care, our language reflects a different understanding of reality. We seem to accept what we pay as an inevitability, as something somehow generated outside the business decisions that drive health care. Health care seems too complex to have prices in the sense that other industries do. Interestingly, only in pharmaceuticals—where the large drug companies are visible actors—do we talk about “prices.”

3/23/2015 5:44:56 PM

Great article!!! I will most definitely be buying this book.

3/19/2015 6:24:47 PM

How are these myths that we all believe? Mostly these are history of some aspect of health care, or "how this system works".

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