Uwe Reinhardt was a towering figure and moral conscience of health care policy in the United States and beyond. Famously bipartisan, he advised presidents and Congress on health reform and originated central features of the Affordable Care Act. In Priced Out, Reinhardt offers an engaging and enlightening account of today’s U.S. health care system, explaining why it costs so much more and delivers so much less than the systems of every other advanced country, why this situation is morally indefensible, and how we might improve it.
The problem, Reinhardt says, is not one of economics but of social ethics. There is no American political consensus on a fundamental question other countries settled long ago: to what extent should we be our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers when it comes to health care? Drawing on the best evidence, he guides readers through the chaotic, secretive, and inefficient way America finances health care, and he offers a penetrating ethical analysis of recent reform proposals. At this point, he argues, the United States appears to have three stark choices: the government can make the rich help pay for the health care of the poor, ration care by income, or control costs. Reinhardt proposes an alternative path: that by age 26 all Americans must choose either to join an insurance arrangement with community-rated premiums, or take a chance on being uninsured or relying on a health insurance market that charges premiums based on health status.
An incisive look at the American health care system, Priced Out dispels the confusion, ignorance, myths, and misinformation that hinder effective reform.
Awards and Recognition
- Winner of the Gold Medal in Business Ethics, Axiom Business Book Awards
"With the posthumous publication this month of his final work, a book entitled Priced Out: The Economic and Ethical Costs of American Health Care, Reinhardt’s reputation for cutting to the quick of the issues in U.S. healthcare reform is only enhanced. The book should be required reading for anyone who professes to have an interest in the debate — economists, journalists, legislators, doctors and patients."—Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times
"Reinhardt’s new book gives a cogent synthesis of all the reasons why ‘it’s the prices, stupid’—not the quantity of care we receive—that drives our high health spending."—Adam Gaffney, Boston Review
"There are numerous moments in this book that will remind readers like myself how much we will miss both his colorful imagery and his brutal candor . . . . One wonders after reading it how to ensure that the book achieves the broad distribution it deserves, especially among the young people and newly minted legislators and members of Congress who will not get a chance to hear Reinhardt in person . . . . We owe Uwe Reinhardt a large debt of gratitude. Buy and read his last book. Then give it to a younger friend."—Jeff Goldsmith, Health Affairs
"Wish I could afford to buy a copy for every adult in the U.S. If healthcare matters to you, please read it."—Ted Kinni
"Uwe’s book can be enjoyed by, and be illuminating for, students, policymakers, the media, and the health care establishment. The only problem is that he can’t follow it up with a book tour and educate his audiences in person with the best PowerPoint presentations I have ever seen."—Gerard Anderson, StatNews
"Priced Out . . . combines scholarly, in-depth analysis with rich insight, delightfully sharp humor, and deep moral seriousness — all in consistently clear, engaging prose."—Donald Gilpin, Princeton Magazine
"As always, Uwe Reinhardt has managed to make me smile as he's presenting a tragic story about U.S. health care. He couples an economist's mathematical graphs and analysis with his unique, unsparing wry commentary. You can hear him on every page of this book. Demonstrating the infeasibility of many—actually, almost all—of the recent attempts at health care reform, he avers that Republican loss of control of one or both houses in 2018 would 'change the debate on health care.' He predicts 'major competing initiatives on health care' from both parties in the 2020 campaign. It is a tragedy that he will not be here to analyze them."—Elisabeth Rosenthal, Editor-in-Chief, Kaiser Health News, and author of An American Sickness
"Uwe Reinhardt was the moral conscience of our health care system, reminding us with evidence, clarity, and stand-up act humor how it is failing. He was joined in this enterprise by another great health care expert, his wife, Tsung-Mei Cheng. Every health care group craved Reinhardt as their keynote speaker and felt more virtuous after he berated them about the many ways in which they were failing. But he did not want adulation; he wanted things to change. By reading this powerful book and making something in the health system better, we can all honor his legacy."—Drew Altman, President and CEO, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
"With an economist's precision and a prophet's moral clarity, the late Uwe Reinhardt untangles our complex health care system for all to see and understand. Only Reinhardt could have done so much in such a short, penetrating volume. His brilliance as a teacher shines through. This will be a must-read for aspiring students of health care and for policymakers everywhere. How much we will miss him."—David Blumenthal, MD, President, The Commonwealth Fund
"In my forty-plus years of engagement with health care policy, I never encountered a mind more incisive or a character more compelling than Uwe Reinhardt's. With his clear voice, piercing intellect, hilarious wit, and unshakable ethics, he simply had no peer. Priced Out is one more testament to the gifts he gave us as a unique model of science and compassion in indissoluble embrace. If you want to understand the trouble that health care has come to, and where it must look for solutions, read this book."—Donald M. Berwick, MD, President Emeritus and Senior Fellow, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, and former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services