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RED HOT Contributors


Episode 1 – ‘Catastrophic Care’ with David Goldhill


NOTE: This article is a short portion taken from a highly-engaging and thought-provoking exchange carried on the RED HOT HEALTHCARE podcast. Carried by ITunes and Stitcher, the show’s host Dr. Steve Ambrose engages with top healthcare leaders and system-shaping technology mavericks.

Listen to the full interview between Steve and CEO David Goldhill by clicking on the episode link at the bottom of this article. And now, lets go…

health reformDavid Goldhill is the President and CEO of the Game Show Network, its television and internet entertainment channels reaching nearly 80 million American households. A strong, successful leader, who in 2007 watched helplessly as his father died from a hospital acquired illness from a top care facility.

The fees for service totaled over $635,000 and Medicare paid the final bill. For an incensed Goldhill, this set in motion a firestorm of deep research, biting analysis, and a conclusion that high costs, excess medicine, terrible service, and medical error are the inevitable consequences of our insurance-based system.

His 2013 book Catastrophic Care: Why Everything We Think About Healthcare is Wrong won critical acclaim, leading to interviews with notables such as Malcolm Gladwell and Stephen Colbert. His book and challenging conclusions led to coverage from major media including NPR, the New Yorker, New York Times and the Washington Post.


STEVE: “One of the complexities you touch on is just how non-transparent healthcare is to us, the average American worker. You have a stat that floored me. The average American worker puts nearly $1.2 million dollars of their own money into healthcare over their lifetime. That is…staggering.”

DAVID: “The whole system is based on hiding from you, what you are actually paying for care. The deception is even deeper – it’s core to the system. So we built up this huge structure of ways to protect ourselves from becoming too old, too poor, too unemployed, too at-risk, to pay for our care. In protecting ourselves against all those things, we bizarrely wound up charging ourselves far more than we could ever pay.

When I wrote my book, I looked at what a young woman starting work at our company would contribute into the system over her lifetime – based on a few assumptions. She get’s married, she has kids, she retires, goes on Medicare, she lives to 80, and she’s really never sick.

I looked at everything. Her share of the insurance premiums, our share of the premiums. Because as every economist will tell every misled American worker, the premiums are coming out of YOUR pay- whether you know it or not. The share of taxes that supports Medicare and Medicaid…her Medicare premiums, taxes…and I just added it up.

This woman – assuming she never gets rich, she’s just middle class her whole life, normal income growth, will put $1.2 million in. If there’s meaningful inflation in the system…let’s just take the projected 10 years of inflation under Obamacare – that’s $1.9 million.

Why do those numbers matter? Because there is probably for our young people, no bigger finanical hurdle that we’ve created for them, than the need to fund this health system. It’s all designed to do this one absurd thing – which is trying to convince 100% of the population that they are not paying for their own healthcare – someone else is.

Keeping the absurdity non-transparent is what lets some 22 year old woman starting her first job, to not understand. That the major reduction in her income over her lifetime, is going to become what she doesn’t know she is paying for healthcare.”


 I have had the privilege and pleasure of working with Steve Ambrose on a podcast that covered a range of topics in healthcare information technology. The podcast logistics – communications, interview questions, scheduling and production – were every well managed.
A great experience that I would do again in an instance.

Dr. John Glaser
SVP, Population Health at CERNER

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