The Price We Pay by Marty Makary
  • Title: The Price We Pay
  • Subtitle: What Broke American Health Care--and How to Fix It
  • Author(s): Marty Makary
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing USA
  • Year: 2019-09-10
  • ISBN-10: 1635574129
  • ISBN-13: 9781635574128


The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care–and How to Fix It” by Marty Makary is a compelling and eye-opening exploration of the broken healthcare system in the United States. Drawing on his experience as a surgeon and researcher, Makary takes readers on a journey to uncover the root causes of escalating healthcare costs and the detrimental impact they have on patients, doctors, and the overall system. Through a series of captivating anecdotes, Makary exposes the hidden practices and corruption that plague American healthcare, encouraging readers to question the status quo and seek meaningful reforms.

In the first part of the book, Makary delves into the complex web of billing and pricing tactics employed by hospitals, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies. He reveals shocking stories of price-gouging, surprise medical bills, and the secretive negotiation process that keeps prices artificially high. These revelations shed light on how Americans end up paying exorbitant amounts for medical treatments and prescription drugs, often without any transparency or recourse.

The second part of the book focuses on the harmful impact of over-diagnosis and over-treatment, which Makary attributes to the profit-driven nature of the healthcare system. Drawing on cutting-edge research, he argues that unnecessary medical interventions and excessive testing not only harm patients but also waste valuable resources. Makary advocates for a shift towards a more patient-centered approach, where shared decision-making and evidence-based medicine drive better outcomes and reduce unnecessary costs.

In conclusion, “The Price We Pay” is a thought-provoking and informative read that exposes the flaws and injustices within the American healthcare system. Makary offers practical solutions, including increased transparency, price competition, and a shift towards value-based care. With his expertise and passion for improving healthcare, Makary provides readers with a comprehensive understanding of the problem at hand while instilling hope for a brighter future in American healthcare.


Book Review

A Critical Examination of the American Healthcare Crisis: "The Price We Pay" by Marty Makary

In “The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care–and How to Fix It,” Marty Makary, a renowned surgeon and researcher, offers readers a compelling analysis of the broken healthcare system in America. Through a combination of personal anecdotes, insightful research, and significant case studies, Makary uncovers the underlying issues and proposes solutions to tackle the escalating costs and inefficiencies plaguing healthcare delivery in the country.

One of the book’s greatest strengths lies in Makary’s ability to expose the hidden practices that contribute to skyrocketing healthcare costs. He demonstrates how factors such as opaque billing procedures, inflated hospital charges, and exorbitant prescription drug prices push patients and insurance companies to their financial limits. Makary recounts the dramatic story of a young man who walked into an emergency room with a minor injury and was subsequently billed $166,000 for basic procedures like bandaging, drawing attention to the price-gouging practices that burden millions of Americans.

Moreover, the author delves into the convoluted world of healthcare pricing, where insurance companies and providers negotiate rates behind closed doors, leaving patients with inflated medical bills. Makary cites examples from his own research to showcase how hospitals deploy aggressive billing strategies to maximize profits. He highlights the case of a woman who received a $10,000 bill from a hospital for applying a single layer of topical cream on her skin, revealing a system that prioritizes financial gain over patient well-being.

The Price We Pay” also addresses the issue of over-diagnosis and over-treatment, which contributes to both financial strain and patient harm. Makary discusses unnecessary medical interventions, such as unnecessary surgeries and diagnostic tests, that are driven by profit motives rather than patient need. He emphasizes cases in which patients undergo invasive procedures and experience adverse outcomes that could have been avoided if a more conservative, evidence-based approach had been adopted.

Throughout the book, the author conveys the urgent need for a paradigm shift in the American healthcare system towards a patient-centered model. Makary argues for increased transparency, empowering patients with information about medical costs and outcomes. He advocates for price competition and the creation of public databases to expose hospital pricing and billing practices, enabling patients to make informed decisions about their healthcare options. By highlighting the successes of organizations that implement transparent pricing models, such as the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, Makary offers concrete evidence that these reforms are indeed viable.

One of the most inspiring aspects of “The Price We Pay” is Makary’s emphasis on collaboration and the importance of restoring trust in the patient-doctor relationship. He emphasizes that restoring this trust, built on shared decision-making and personalized, evidence-based care, not only improves patient outcomes but also reduces costs. Makary cites examples of physicians who have successfully implemented these values, such as Dr. Lown, who founded a health clinic based on the principles of reducing over-diagnosis and overtreatment, resulting in better patient experiences and lower costs.

Overall, “The Price We Pay” is a captivating and meticulously researched book that successfully dissects the systemic flaws of the American healthcare system. Makary combines narratives, empirical data, and case studies to paint a comprehensive picture of an industry that is failing its patients and providers alike. By proposing practical solutions, including transparent pricing and value-based care, the author demonstrates how a reimagined healthcare system can lead to better outcomes for all stakeholders involved.

Makary’s persuasive arguments make a compelling case for change, ensuring that “The Price We Pay” is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the complexities of healthcare and seeking solutions to fix its broken state.

Word Count: 639

We have a health care market. We just don’t have a functioning market. In a true market, prices and quality are clear, and companies compete for business. That doesn’t happen in today’s health care.

Key Ideas

In “The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care–and How to Fix It,” Marty Makary presents several key ideas that shed light on the broken American healthcare system and propose solutions for improvement. These ideas include:

  1. Hidden Practices and Excessive Costs Makary exposes the hidden practices that contribute to escalating healthcare costs, such as opaque billing procedures, inflated hospital charges, and exorbitant prescription drug prices. He argues that these practices burden patients, insurance companies, and the overall health system, leading to financial strain and limited access to care.

  2. Transparency and Price Competition Makary advocates for increased transparency in healthcare pricing. He emphasizes the need for patients to have access to information about medical costs upfront, enabling them to make informed choices and encouraging price competition among providers. By exposing the negotiation tactics used by insurance companies and hospitals, Makary argues that transparency will help reduce inflated billing and empower patients to navigate the system more effectively.

  3. Over-Diagnosis and Over-Treatment Makary points out the issue of over-diagnosis and over-treatment, fueled by profit motives rather than patient well-being. He emphasizes that unnecessary medical interventions, such as surgeries and tests, not only burden patients with excessive costs but also put them at risk of harm. Makary suggests a shift towards evidence-based medicine and shared decision-making, ensuring that medical interventions are truly necessary and beneficial.

  4. Patient-Centered Care and Trust Makary highlights the importance of restoring trust in the patient-doctor relationship. He advocates for a patient-centered approach to healthcare, where shared decision-making and personalized care are prioritized. By focusing on patient needs and building trust, Makary believes that better outcomes can be achieved while reducing costs.

  5. Value-Based Care Makary proposes a shift towards value-based care, where the emphasis is on quality outcomes rather than the quantity of procedures or treatments provided. He showcases successful examples of organizations and physicians who have embraced this approach, highlighting its positive impact on patient experiences and cost reduction.

Overall, the key ideas in “The Price We Pay” revolve around increasing transparency, reducing excessive costs, eliminating over-diagnosis and over-treatment, prioritizing patient-centered care, and shifting towards value-based care. Makary argues that implementing these changes will not only lead to better healthcare outcomes but also address the financial strain and inefficiencies within the American healthcare system.


Target Audience

The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care–and How to Fix It” by Marty Makary is targeted at a diverse audience interested in understanding the flaws and potential solutions of the American healthcare system. The book is recommended reading for the following audiences:

  • General Readers and Patients This book is accessible to general readers, including patients and healthcare consumers who want to gain a deeper understanding of why healthcare costs are escalating and the impact it has on their lives. Makary’s engaging storytelling and clear explanations make it an enlightening read for anyone interested in the healthcare system.

  • Healthcare Professionals The book offers valuable insights and perspectives for healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and administrators. It exposes the flaws within the system, raises critical questions about the current practices, and suggests ways to improve patient outcomes and address the financial burden on both providers and patients.

  • Policy Makers and Advocates “The Price We Pay” is a crucial resource for policy makers and advocates who are involved in shaping healthcare policies and seeking reforms. Makary presents evidence-based solutions and policy recommendations that can inform discussions and potential improvements to the American healthcare system.

  • Students and Researchers This book is recommended for students and researchers in healthcare, public health, and related fields. It provides a comprehensive overview of the challenges and complexities of the American healthcare system, offering valuable insights and analysis for academic study and research.

  • Business and Economics Professionals Professionals in the fields of business, economics, and healthcare management will find “The Price We Pay” to be a thought-provoking read. Makary highlights the financial aspects of healthcare, exposing business practices that contribute to rising costs. This makes the book relevant for those interested in healthcare economics and healthcare policy.

In conclusion, “The Price We Pay: What Broke American Health Care–and How to Fix It” is recommended reading for a wide range of audiences. Its accessible writing style, compelling narratives, and evidence-based solutions make it an informative and thought-provoking book for general readers, healthcare professionals, policy makers, students, and professionals in related fields. The book serves as a valuable resource for those seeking a deeper understanding of the challenges and potential improvements in the American healthcare system.

Fair Use Disclaimer

This book review may contain excerpts and references from the reviewed work, used under the doctrine of fair use. The purpose is to provide a critical analysis, commentary, and evaluation of the book. The use of these excerpts is done for non-commercial and educational purposes, aimed at fostering discussion and understanding. The author acknowledges the original copyright holder's rights and asserts that the use of such material is transformative, adding value through the inclusion of informed opinions and insights. This review intends to comply with the principles of fair use under copyright law and does not seek to infringe upon the author's or publisher's rights.

© 2023