About the Book
We are surrounded by medical miracles: polio has been eradicated; childhood leukemia is now treatable; death by cardiovascular disease has declined by two-thirds in the last fifty years. Yet while American medicine has never been better, angst over American health care has never been greater.
Why is American health care such a mess? In this pathbreaking book—Nobel laureate Milton Friedman calls it "fascinating and thorough"—Dr. David Gratzer goes to the heart of the problem, showing that the crisis in American health care stems largely from its addiction to outmoded and discredited economic ideas.
What needs to be done? Dr. Gratzer mounts a bold and provocative argument, rejecting the conventional wisdom that socialized health care is compassionate and that top-down government agencies like the FDA actually save lives. Instead, he prescribes a strong dose of capitalism.
The Cure offers a detailed overview of American health care, from economics and politics to medical science. Weighing in on the most controversial topics in health care, Dr. Gratzer makes the case that it’s possible to reduce health expenses, insure millions more, and improve quality of care while not growing government or raising taxes. An award-wining author and essayist, he is a master storyteller, enlivening his book with anecdotes, interviews, and stories drawn from his own extensive clinical experience. He details the cardiac woes of Robert E. Lee and Dick Cheney, describes a chat over coffee with Canada’s foremost private medical entrepreneur (an acquaintance of Fidel Castro, as it happens), and explains the evolution of his own thinking, from advocating HillaryCare as a medical student to promoting individual choice and competition today.
The patient is in critical condition; Dr. Gratzer diagnoses the disease and prescribes the cure.
About the Author
David Gratzer, a licensed physician in the US and Canada, is a former senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. His research interests include Medicare and Medicaid, drug reimportation, and FDA reform.
Health care innovation, and its enemies Baltimore Examiner, 02-07-08
Dust Off Last Year's Health Reform For This Year's State Of The Union Investor's Business Daily, 01-28-08
Rudy Is Right In Data Duel About Cancer Investor's Business Daily, 11-07-07
UK's Bad Medicine: Why US Has Better Odds vs. Cancer New York Post, 11-05-07
Dr. Hillary Will See You Now National Review Online Symposium, 09-18-07
Dr. Romney Goes National National Review Online Symposium, 08-27-07
A Canadian Doctor Describes How Socialized Medicine Doesn't Work Investor's Business Daily, 07-27-07
A Prescription for SiCKO National Review Online, 07-10-07
FDA User Fees Is Rx To Speed Drug Approvals Investor's Business Daily, 07-06-07
Who's the real sicko? National Post, 07-06-07
A capitalism prescription for health care Snohomish County Business Journal, July 2007
Simplisticko City Journal Online, 06-29-07
Who's Really 'Sicko' Wall Street Journal, 06-28-07
Unhealthy Policies Weekly Standard, 06-18-07
We can fix the health-insurance mess Clinical Advisor, March 2007
America's Health Care Revolution Chief Executive Magazine, March 2007
It will take an injection of capitalism to free ourselves Dallas Morning News, 02-11-07 (This essay was adapted from David Gratzer's book The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care)
Consumerism: A Prescription for Change San Francisco Examiner, 02-02-07
A Health-Care Bargain Wall Street Journal, 01-31-07
First, Do No Harm Forbes Magazine, 02-12-07
Curing America's Health Cost Disease Reason, 01-25-07
Canada's prescription drug supply in danger? Take a pill Globe and Mail, 01-07-07
Freeing the Drug Market National Review Online, 12-19-06
Rx for New York's Ailing Health Care New York Post, 11-22-06
For Health Care Woes, a Capitalism Prescription Washington Post Online, 10-25-06
A new 'Day' for the CMA National Post, 8-24-06
A Tale of Two Anniversaries: The Discovery of Alzheimer's and the Founding of the FDA Medical Progress Today, 7-5-06
Where Would You Rather Be Sick? Wall Street Journal,, 6-15-06
Paging Dr. Greenspan By David Gratzer, New York Sun, 6-2-06
Going Out of State: David Gratzer on health insurance By David Gratzer, New York Sun, 5-10-06
For the Birds or Sleeping with the Fishes? By David Gratzer, John Calfee, Senator Bill Frist, Dr. Henry I. Miller , Steven Milloy, Iain Murray, Elizabeth Whelan, National Review Online, 3-14-06
The hip that changed health care history National Post, 3-7-06
Putting Patients First The Weekly Standard, 2-6-06
Health of the Union Wall Street Journal, 1-26-06
Headed by Harper National Review Online, 1-24-06
Congress Got Something Right! The Wall Street Journal, 12-7-05
The "Choo Choo Man" Party On the Outs National Review, 11-28-05
Book Review: First, Do No Harm By David Gratzer, The Claremont Review of Books, Fall 2005
In Control of My Health New York Sun, 10-28-05
The doctors' chance to lead National Post, 8-16-05
Let People Choose The New York Sun, 8-11-05
Socialized Medicine on Life Support The Weekly Standard, 6-27-05
An end to the party line Macleans Magazine, 6-14-05
The Return of HillaryCare Weekly Standard, 5-23-05
A New Prescription for Health Care National Review Online, 5-16-05
What ails health care The Public Interest, Spring 2005
Medicaid needs Surgery The Weekly Standard, 2-14-05
Simple, but Effective Wall Street Journal, 1-25-05
A Prescription for Health NRO, 12-21-04
Bush’s medicare fix Financial Post, 10-27-04
HSA Man Vs. Healthzilla Wall Street Journal, 10-12-04
The Free- Market Cure National Review Online, 9-28-04
What Health Insurance Crisis? Los Angeles Times, 8-29-04
Drug Industry Set Pace for Armstrong Victory Investor's Business Daily, 7-27-04
Gammon’s Law Financial Post, 5-27-04
Less Is More National Review Online, 5-27-04
From HillaryCare to KerryCare The Weekly Standard, 5-24-04
Wanted: Leadership at the FDA A life-and-death gap to fill. National Review Online, 3-2-04
Cadbury Replaces Cholera: Can government make us healthier? National Review Online, 2-12-04
Vermont’s Badly Managed Care Dean's health care record as governor is nothing to brag about. The Weekly Standard, 1-12-04
The Real Work’s Ahead New York Post, 12-9-03
Expanding Regret Bad Medicare prescription on a fast track to law. National Review Online, 11-24-03
A Nobel-sized predicament for us National Post, 10-7-03
Insuring America Moving out of state. National Review Online, 10-6-03
How Not to Handle Health Care Wall Street Journal, 10-1-03
Miller’s Centrist Tale, National Review, 9-29-03
Price controls stifle drug development Chicago Sun-Times, 9-14-03
Send the Staff Home An immediate treatment for Medicare reform. National Review Online, 8-14-03
GOP Giveaway to Granny New York Post, 7-7-03
Medicare Blues: A problem for the president. National Review Online, 2-27-03
Pricey Placebos New York Post, 6-11-03
SARS 101 What an Asian virus teaches North America. National Review Online, 5-19-03
The WTO’s Drug Problem Do WTO deals mean anything? National Review Online, 1-21-03
Older than the Seniors? The GOP needs to get bold on Medicare reform, National Review Online, 1-15-03
Universal Health Care Revived? The electoral stakes in Oregon, National Review Online, 11-1-02
Unhealthy Combination By Mark Milke, The Weekly Standard, 06-02-07
If the first step toward a cured addiction is to admit the problem, Dr. David Gratzer has given himself no small task: to convince politicians that their reliance on government interference in health care hurts more Americans than it helps... the Winnipeg-born-and-trained physician, who now practices in Toronto and New York, has observed our two systems in detail—and the medical system lauded by the Dean-Clinton-Pelosi axis doesn't look so healthy under his microscope. In Canada, Soviet-style queues are the norm. The physician himself encountered horror stories familiar to any mildly informed Canadian...
What's Ailing Health Care? By James C. Capretta, The New Atlantis, Spring 2007
In the past half century, the practice of medicine has been radically transformed by new techniques and discoveries, but the institutional arrangements for financing and delivering health care have barely changed at all. This is the obvious yet startling point with which David Gratzer begins his recent book The Cure, and it is at the heart of the paradox Gratzer sees in American health care: "Everyone agrees it is the best in the world, but no one likes it"...
The Right Rx: Dr. David Gratzer Has The Cure By Kathryn Lopez, National Review Online, 02-08-07
There's a sickness in the air and near everyone has some kind of plan or another these days to both diagnose and treat problems in the American health-care system. Dr. David Gratzer is among them. A medical doctor and fellow at the Manhattan Institute, he's author of The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care. Dr. Gratzer recently took questions about health-care politics from NRO editor Kathryn Lopez. . .
No 'crisis' of uninsured, By Mike Rosen, Rocky Mountain News, 1-12-07
If your goal is to lay a political foundation for socialized medicine in this country, what better way to do it than to create the public impression that we have a vast army of people - even better: children - who are permanently unable to obtain health insurance. Depending on who's throwing around the sensationalized figures, that army numbers from 46 million to 59 million. In fact, that army is AWOL; it doesn't exist in anywhere near those numbers. The National Center for Policy Analysis and Dr. David Gratzer, in his new book, The Cure, effectively debunk these myths. . .
The wrong prescriptions Orange County Register, Editorial, 12-29-06
Third-party spending is the principal culprit in the escalating price of health care. Dr. David Gratzer, author of "The Cure: How capitalism can save American health care," calls reliance on third-party spending, "a formula for more." Rather than rely on more federal - or state - taxes, the governor should break away from the Nanny State mindset and work to deregulate the industry so market forces can bring costs under control. As long as someone else pays, the people selling health care, and the people receiving health care always will demand more. . .
Barone's Bookshelf By Michael Barone, USNews.com, 11-28-06
Gratzer is a physician and a Canadian whose first book was on Canada's dysfunctional government health system. . . The Cure is not a long book, but it manages to provide some useful historic background on how America's healthcare and healthcare-finance systems came to be what they are. . . Looking back to the introduction of penicillin in 1941, he shows how medicine can do so much more than it could back when my father was a premed student in college. . . He moves ahead to the problems caused by two men of undoubted high intellect and political skill, House Ways and Means Chairman (1958-74) Wilbur Mills and President Richard Nixon. . . . Gratzer hits Mills for his design of Medicare and Medicaid, passed in 1965, and Nixon for his support of "cost control through HMOs". . . Gratzer argues that the third way is to increase consumer choice. . .
Prescriptions for Progress By David Salvo, Health Care News, 01-01-07
Dr. David Gratzer—a widely cited senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute—draws on his years of experience as a physician in both Canada and the United States to offer several compelling health care reform strategies in his newest book, The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care. . . Readers unfamiliar with the health care system and the policy debate orbiting it will appreciate his conversational approach to intricate topics, as will seasoned health experts looking for a refreshing viewpoint and new ideas. . .
Universal health care: Is the unthinkable now thinkable? By David Limbaugh, Washington Times, 12-25-06
What the system needs is a robust dose of capitalism. No one has done a better job of making that case than Dr. David Gratzer in his book, "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care." The late Dr. Milton Friedman endorsed Dr. Gratzer's recommendations in his foreword to the book. . . Dr. Gratzer says that by reintroducing market forces, "American healthcare will become cheaper, better, and more accessible for everyone. Capitalism is not the cause of America's health-care problem. It is the cure.". . .
Have Yourself a Very Healthy Christmas By David Hogberg, American Spectator, 12-08-06
Gratzer is a psychiatrist who grew up in Canada. Having seen Canada's dysfunctional single-payer system first hand, he notes that Canada is now moving toward more privatization. . . He turns his critical eye on insurance in America, Medicare and Medicaid, with each chapter showing how government intervention makes the health care costs more expensive. . . It is ideas like these that will move us toward a more market-based system of health care and save us from the disaster that is a single-payer system.
The Market and Its Medicine By Stephen Moore, Wall Street Journal, 12-05-06
Dr. Gratzer, a physician from Canada and a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, is painfully aware, thanks to Canada's single-payer government system, of how inefficient and limited health care can be when the market is kept almost completely out of the calculation. . . America is clearly at a crossroads in medical care. Within the next decade we will get either some version of Hillary-care or more free-market medicine, starting with universally available health savings accounts. Let's hope that our nation's policy makers read The Cure before they decide. They will learn that the government route flattens costs only by holding back the pace of technology, artificially controlling its price and rationing its use. That is not a prescription for better health.
Digging Out of the Health Care Hole By Mark Milke, Western Standard, 12-04-06
WS: The perception among many is that health care in the U.S. in mainly private. What's the reality?
DG: For every dollar spent on health, 45 cents come directly from federal or state treasuries. The government also provides indirect subsidies for private insurance—the tax break that employers get who provide health insurance, which is another 10 cents or so out of every dollar. So the United States is hardly a free market system . . . That's part of the reason why it's very expensive and unsatisfactory.
A Radical Cure By Sally Pipes, New York Post, 12-03-06
If you find yourself in a room with 10 people this holiday season, eight of them will think the United States health-care system is riddled with problems, according to a recent survey in Health Affairs. If you're lucky enough to be at a party with physician, author and policy analyst David Gratzer, you can be certain that he's among the eight. But a little perspective on health care is in order, perspective that Gratzer's "The Cure" thankfully provides. . . Anyone interested in understanding the current state of U.S. health care - or taking an active role in the emerging health-care debate - ought to head to Amazon and acquire the Gratzer two pack - "The Cure" and his earlier work "Code Blue." Then they'll be well equipped to understand and add to the emerging debate. . .
Five Questions for David Gratzer, Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow By Alex Wayne, Congressional Quarterly, 11-27-06
[Gratzer's] plan for radical surgery for the nation's health care system, "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care," argues for a reduction in government regulation and giving individuals more responsibility.
Q. Now that Democrats are going to be in charge of Congress, what's the prognosis for the American health care system?
A. The system is fundamentally unsustainable. Insurance premiums doubled from 2000 to 2005. If you think we've got problems today, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Health care spending will approach 18 or 19 percent of GDP.
Q. And what's the prognosis for "The Cure" being implemented?
A. Americans are going to have to pick one of three options. Option one, socialized medicine. Option two is managed care. And the only other option I can come up with is what I talk about in my book: capitalism, or free-market reforms. . .
The Doctor's Health Care Cure By Mark Milke, Financial Post, 11-23-06
. . . To pierce through a fortress of misunderstanding on health care, it helps to have ammunition on facts, along with an understanding of how markets work and why governments often do not. David Gratzer, a Winnipeg-raised physician who practises in Toronto and New York, is up to the task. In The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care, Dr. Gratzer argues that getting more Americans covered and with better insurance wont happen if additional regulation, more interference in insurance choices, and more care is delivered by government. This is one of our great Canadian myths, that U.S. health care is all private and the source of its problems. . .
Capitalism to the rescue of our health-care system By Mark Milke, Business in Vancouver, 11-21-06
Many Canadians think our health-care system is tops, just as some Americans believe theirs to be superior, though for very different reasons. But a new book out from former Winnipeg resident Dr. David Gratzer tries to explain what's wrong with U.S. and Canadian health care - and how both countries have similar root problems. . .
The Cure By Jamie Glazov, FrontPageMagazine.com, 11-15-06
"Frontpage Interview's guest today is David Gratzer, a licensed physician in the U.S. and Canada. . . .
. . . FP: What is your prescription to cure the crisis?
Gratzer: In a sentence: we need to reform health care along the lines of individual choice and competition, as we have the other five-sixth of the general economy. Here are five simple steps I discuss in The Cure: Make health insurance more like other types of insurance; Foster competition; Reform Medicaid, using welfare reform as the template; Revisit Medicare; Address prescription drug prices by pruning the size and scope of the FDA.
FP: From which quarters in American society would there be opposition to your suggestions for a cure and why?
Gratzer: Obviously, people who favor a greater role for government—unions, academics, health policy analysts, foundations—aren't happily excited about market-based reforms. I see a bigger obstacle, however: cultural resistance. If American health care is to be substantively changed, there must be a cultural change. . ."
The Cure for Health Care By Steven D. Laib, J.D. M.S., IntellectualConservative.com, 11-10-06
"...Dr. David Gratzer is bucking the popular cant that government is the only answer. Gratzer is a medical doctor, licensed in both the United States and Canada. He divides his time between New York and Toronto, which puts him in a rather unique position to observe the strengths and weaknesses of both systems first hand... Dr. Gratzer provides us with a detailed outline of his work, and an explanation of exactly what he is setting out to show. He provides a sketch of modern medical progress, how health insurance became a fixture in employment benefits, evolution of the private and government programs, why government programs are in trouble, and concludes with ideas for using the free market and the informed consumer, to make affordable health care available to more Americans with less difficulty than our present system allows. What makes this book most impressive is that the author delivers extremely well on his promise..."
Two nations suffer from a lack of health-care options By Mark Milke, Victoria Times-Colonist, 10-30-06 (Subscription Required)
"Many Canadians think our health-care system is tops just as some Americans believe theirs to be superior, though for very different reasons. Maybe we're both delusional. And maybe the flaws within our systems are more similar than we realize as are some prospective remedies. A new book out from a former Winnipeg resident aims to pop our respective balloons. If you're an American visiting Canada, sorry, but your bubble goes first. In The Cure, David Gratzer, now a Toronto-New York physician (who commutes, apparently) tries to explain what's wrong with U.S. health care. . . Gratzer proposes several reforms, sensibly designed, that point to a way out of Canadian lineups and away from America's private health care bureaucracies. . . "
Another Form of Health Care By Thomas Donlon, Barron's Magazine, 10-29-06 (Subscription Required)
"In a new book, The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care, Gratzer takes on employer-sponsored health insurance, HMOs, Medicare, Medicaid, state-coverage mandates, the Food and Drug Administration—and universal government health-care programs based on the models established in Canada and Europe. He finds them all wanting a good dose of capitalism. The employer-sponsored health-care system, Medicare, Medicaid and health-maintenance organizations have different problems, but they all have one problem in common. Somebody else is paying while the patient has no perception of the price and no reason to care about it. . ."
Health Care Proposal Melds Left and Right St. Paul Pioneer-Press, 10-29-06
"There are lots of people these days who claim to have a simple solution to reform the health care system. Liberals who can't quite embrace the idea of national health insurance now favor extending the program for federal government employees to the whole country. And conservatives are gaga over consumer-driven health care. "In "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care," David Gratzer, a Canadian psychiatrist and fellow at the libertarian Manhattan Institute, does an artful job of concisely laying out what ails the U.S. system and how things got to be that way. . ."
Author promises solution, but doesn't deliver By Jeffrey Krasner, Boston Globe, 10-29-06
US Health Care: Gratzer "Gets It" By Aaron Krowne, AutoDogmatic.com, 10-28-06
"David Gratzer hits the nail on the head with his new book, "The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care." Your first hint this guy might be onto something is that the foreward to his book is written by Milton Friedman. In specific, Gratzer's core insight (which I happen to agree with) is that the free market in American health care has not failed, for the simple reason that there is no free market in American health care. . . "
Can Market Forces Cure Health Care Ills? Author: Yes, They Can; He says rising costs can be slowed if consumers are given more power By Peter Benesh, Investor's Business Daily, 10-23-06 (Subscription Required)
IBD: "What do you mean when you say that U.S. health insurance isn't insurance at all?"
Gratzer: ". . . You walk into a supermarket and you're surrounded by prices. But if you walk into a hospital, people can't answer basic questions about pricing. Economically speaking, we've done something terrible with health care. The consequence is high expense and low satisfaction with care. We've overinsured ourselves. It's a basic economic problem. For every dollar spent in the U.S., 14 cents comes out of the pocket of the person receiving the care. That completely distorts the market. If we brought financial decisions closer to the individual you'd see more of a real market develop. . . "
Readings By Steven Pearlstein, Washington Post, 10-22-06
"In The Cure (Encounter Books), David Gratzer, a Canadian psychiatrist and fellow at the libertarian Manhattan Institute, does an artful job of concisely laying out what ails the U.S. system and how things got to be that way. And his prescriptions for fixing it are not only well-reasoned, but also have the political benefit of drawing strands from both liberal and conservative plans...." - Stephen Pearlstein, Washington Post
"The Cure is a must read for all students of health care policy. Dr. Gratzer correctly diagnoses the U.S. health care system's problems and proposes workable solutions to fix them. His ideas will help reign-in costs while, at the same time, preserve necessary incentives for quality-of-life enhancing innovations."
—John F. Cogan, Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution, Stanford University
"David Gratzer’s well written book should be in the reading list of anyone interested in health care reform. In five-sixths of the U.S economy, we look to markets as an organizing mechanism; in the one-sixth of the economy represented by health care, public policy has frustrated markets, with adverse consequences for cost, access, and quality. Gratzer’s capitalist manifesto is a shot in the arm; with it, the much that’s right with American health care can grow."
—R. Glenn Hubbard, Dean and Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, Columbia Business School; and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.
"The caduceus is an apt symbol for medicine, given the bureaucratic snake pit the American health care system has become. Dr. David Gratzer skillfully wields Occam’s razor to shave away the Byzantine rhetoric and show us that the cure for health care comes in the simplest of formulas – free markets, less government meddling, and a healthy dose of capitalism."
—Governor Bill Owens, Colorado
"Dr. David Gratzer is uniquely qualified to diagnose and provide a treatment regimen for the US health care system's problems. In this book he performs this function for us, does it with his usual acumen and clarity. He leads us by the hand through the labyrinth of legal, institutional and regulatory events that brought to the point where, at least to some, we are in a health crisis that can only be solved by further movement away from the market and toward a universal centrally controlled system. He thoroughly debunks the notion we can improve the US health care system by becoming more like our neighbors to the North. After taking us there, he shows us why these same legal, institutional, and regulatory events are largely responsible for our predicament and that the popular solution of more of the same is not the answer. He convincingly demonstrates that the only way out is less regulation of, and more freedom for, the providers and customers of health care. This book should be read by anyone involved, or with the hope or potential to be involved, in determining health care policy."
—Tom Saving, Director, Private Enterprise Research Center at Texas A&M University.
"Excellent addition to the emerging call for empowering patients rather than government bureaucrats with control of the health care dollar, written by someone with an expert view from the inside!"
—Scott W. Atlas, MD, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Professor, Stanford University School of Medicine