Who Killed Healthcare?

Regina E. Herzlinger


September 07, 2007


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We turn over $2.2 trillion of our money each year to those who manage our healthcare, without holding them accountable for efficiency or quality. Not surprisingly, these folks -- hospitals, insurers, governments -- they use the money to benefit themselves. Jack Morgan, the insured, middle-class protagonist in Who Killed Health Care?[1] was killed by this system.

Insurers, hospitals, and governments have gotten fat on our bloated healthcare costs, which kill the competitiveness of US firms. More than 40 million Americans are uninsured, mostly because they cannot afford it, while 300,000 people die every few years from medical errors.[2] Arrogant insurance bureaucrats deny people the services they paid for, while many insured find their coverage inadequate for serious illnesses. The uninsured -- they are charged the highest prices by our allegedly nonprofit, ostensibly "charitable" hospitals and are all too often driven to bankruptcy.[3,4,5]

Meanwhile, many doctors leave the profession because of insurer, hospital, and government micromanagement of their activities. Physicians enrolled in my MBA courses at the Harvard Business School tell me, "I can no longer practice medicine." The grip of the powerful status quo also scares off those entrepreneurs who represent the best hope of transforming healthcare.

Only 1 stakeholder can fix this -- you and me. We must take back our money so we can decide how to spend it. We should be buying health insurance for ourselves, using the foregone salaries and massive taxes we once turned over to the self-serving healthcare industry crew. Switzerland's consumer-driven healthcare system points the way: With their excellent, private healthcare system, the Swiss have universal coverage and spend 40% less.[6]

We are at war for control of an annual $2.2 trillion -- an amount equal in size to China's whole economy. If we do not win it, our health and economy will go down in flames. My new book Who Killed Health Care?[1] details the consumer-driven battle plan that can revive our doctors, our economy, and our good health.

That's my opinion. I'm Professor Regina Herzlinger of the Harvard Business School.




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