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April 2012

Contribute to a Ground Breaking Literary Event

Health Choices: Markets or Government Failure

To be written by John C. Goodman, PhD, Research Fellow, The Independent Institute President, National Center for Policy Analysis
Health Choices: Markets or Government Failure

“Forget everything you know about health care for a moment. I want to introduce you to a new way of thinking about it. Our health care system is an example of what social scientists call ‘complex systems.’ These systems are so complicated that no one person or group can ever fully grasp everything that is going on. As individuals, all we ever really see is a small slice of the system. That’s usually the part of it that we interact with. In this regard, the economy as a whole is an example of a complex system. At one point, leaders in the Soviet Union thought they could understand enough about their country’s entire economy that they could manage it all from a central command post. Today, even the Russians admit they were dead wrong. We need to face up to this same reality and give up trying to have government centrally plan health care for America.”

—John C. Goodman

Health care is one of America’s biggest and most serious problems. It is the principal cause of the out-of-control federal deficit, and it is bankrupting cities, counties, and state governments. It has created huge, unfunded liabilities for some of the largest corporations. It is contributing to the stagnation in worker take-home pay. It can potentially bankrupt the families of individuals who have the misfortune to become ill. This prospective book project by the renowned health-care economist John Goodman is about why we have these problems and what can be done now about them. This authoritative new study shows that all of these problems arise because we are trapped in a dysfunctional, bureaucratic system of perverse incentives to do things that cause the cost of care to be higher, the quality of care to be lower, and access to care more difficult. Perverse incentives are faced by everyone: patients, doctors, nurses, hospital administrators, employees, and employers. As anyone interacts with the system, we see things we could individually do to avoid waste and make care less expensive, but the system generally penalizes for doing the right things and rewards for doing the wrong things.

The prospective book Health Choices will address health care in depth to show how to let people out of the bureaucratic trap by allowing them to have alternatives with better incentives through markets. This message is precisely the opposite of the conventional view that we have “too much freedom,” not too little. This book will differ from all other books on health policy because Dr. Goodman has the training and track record to command attention. He regularly writes on health policy for such publications as the Wall Street Journal, Investor’s Business Daily, National Review, and Health Affairs.

Life Extension has already provided funding to help initiate this project. If you would like to provide further support for this project, contact Ms. Sarah Tarvin, Development Manager, The Independent Institute, at 510-632-1366 x152 or visit