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Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much

Maggie Mahar, Author
Maggie Mahar, Author . Collins $27.95 (451p) ISBN 978-0-06-076533-0
Reviewed on: 03/27/2006
Release date: 05/01/2006
Ebook - 480 pages - 978-0-06-117509-1
Ebook - 480 pages - 978-0-06-187382-9
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Mahar, a financial journalist whose previous book (Bull! ) tracked the history of the stock market from 1982 to 1999, here applies her keen analytic talents and economic savvy to America's complicated and increasingly dysfunctional health-care system. Mahar's diagnosis: our privately managed yet mainly publicly funded system produces the worst of both worlds—high costs, rampant inefficiencies and intense competition among providers that doesn't benefit patients. She traces how today's market-driven medical system emerged over the past century thanks to trends that gradually stripped power from doctors and gave it to corporations, turning patients into profit centers. No one is spared in Mahar's thoroughly researched and carefully reasoned study: she criticizes frustrated (and increasingly money-minded) physicians, self-serving insurance companies, for-profit hospital chains and pharmaceutical companies driven by inflated Wall Street expectations. Mahar uncovers isolated pockets of good news, including the VA hospital system, which provides excellent care at modest cost thanks largely to its exemption from the pressures of competition. But her goal is not to offer any programmatic solution. Instead, she wants to show why the most common economic assumptions about health care—especially those that extol the magic power of free markets—are false and stand in the way of real reform. (May)

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