Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bookblogging "Crisis of Abundance"

I see Arnold Kling has somehow noticed that I am reading his book. Ok, no pressure!

In my ideal world, I would be able to linger over books in a comfy chair at a coffeeshop with a good free wifi connection. In real life I read in stolen snatches of five or ten minutes between helping with dinner, helping with (or "encouraging") homework, rebuilding the home computer network after the catastrophic server failure, herding the boys (8 and 14) to bed, or conspiring with my wife against the boys. I squeeze in bookblogging where I can. So, I apologize to Mr. Kling and any other readers for my posts being so sporadic.

Fortunately "Crisis of Abundance" is written in the much same lucid prose style as Mr. Kling's Econlog, so reading it in snatches works.

The introductory chapter is a roadmap to the rest of the book. I find it helpful to see where the book is going and what the themes will be. The overview begins:

Chapter 1, "The Rise of Premium Medicine," shows that the primary driver of the crisis in health care finance is the evoloution of the practice of medicine. Over the past few decades, medical care has become more specialized and capital intensive.

Premium medicine consists of
  • Frequent referrals to specialists
  • Extensive use of high-tech diagnostic procedures
  • increased number and variety of surgeries
In my initial post on this bookblogging project I laid out my thoughts and prejudices on healthcare economics so I could see how they were confirmed or challenged by this book. As I identify heavy use of "the latest technology" as one of the drivers of health costs, I feel smug. I read a little further, though, and the smugness goes away. My opening thoughts leave out a huge factor old folks. That should have been obvious to me, having seen end-of-life chronic health issues with my father-in-law's long decline with Parkinsons and health problems.

I'm now into the chapter on premium medicine, which I will cover more in my next post. I like the book. As strange as it sounds to say this about a book on health care economics, it's a quick read, so far.

No comments: