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Health Care on Less Than You Think
The New York Times Guide to Getting Affordable Coverage

by Fred Brock

      The US health care system is in an increasing state of crisis. We're paying more and getting less, than we used to and compared with many other countries. Problems are exacerbated by the mass of confusion and ignorance underlying things, with people not knowing or understanding their options. Fred Brock's Health Care on Less Than You Think is a sensibly written, surprisingly comprehensive - given its size - guide to get you out of the morass and onto the firmest ground available. Whether you are a student, mid-career employee, or retiree, there's something in here to help, even if it's just clarifying terminology to better understand the excellent coverage you already have.

The first chapter is full of statistics and analyses of where we are, how we got there, and how we compare with others. I could wish some things were put in better context or were written more clearly (does more specialists in an area mean geographical area or area of medicine), but still found plentiful food for thought in such things as: almost half of personal bankruptcies stem from overwhelming medical bills, while 75% of those filing for medical bankruptcy had health insurance at the start of filing. In 2005, for the first time, the annual cost of an employer sponsored family health plan was more than a full time, minimum wage employees salary.

The focus is on conventional medicine, although some of the information could also be applied to complementary medicine. The bulk of the book covers the available options, how to choose among them and get the most out of your choices, along with commentary that should generate second thoughts about some assumptions you have been using to make decisions. A major strength is that it covers a variety of situations in life, since what applies to a relatively healthy, single 20-something working a first McJob probably isn't right for a 30-something with a family. Its credibility got a boost for me from the number of varied examples cited from the author's own life, indicating that this was real life, practical help, not just a compilation from the literature. At the end are sections proposing options to improve the system itself and worksheets to help you sort out your personal options.

This is a highly recommended book for everyone, from young adults to the elderly. There is something in here guaranteed to help you save money, get better care, be an informed consumer, plan for your future or all of them combined. Be well.

The Book

Henry Holt
October 2006
Trade Paperback
Non-Fiction Finances
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The Reviewer

Kim Malo
Reviewed 2006
© 2006