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Crisis of Abundance: Rethinking How We Pay for Health Care Paperback – February 22, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Cato Institute (February 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933995130
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933995137
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,646,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is one of the most important books written on health care." -- Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics, George Mason University, copublisher of Marginal Revolution.

I warmly recommend his book to general readers who want to understand what economics has to say about health care. -- Arnold S. Relman, The New England Journal of Medicine, September 2006 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Back Cover

His book is clear, concise, and eminently readable; he writes in straightforward English prose, not economic jargon; he is modest, posing questions more often than he answers them; and he considers alternatives to most of the policy options he discusses. I warmly recommend his book to general readers who want to understand what economics has to say about health care.
- Arnold S. Relman, M.D., Harvard Medical School, writing in The New England Journal of Medicine [Full text of review]

"Crisis of Abundance is full of useful insights, the best being Kling's schema for understanding the value of medical care. Kling offers some innovative ideas on how to introduce more consumerism into health care. 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."
- David Hogberg, The American Spectator [Full text of review]

For a fresh analysis of health care, people ought to look to economist Arnold Kling's new book, Crisis of Abundance. Although it offers no easy villain-versus-hero narrative or solution to the challenges of funding health care, it diagnoses the problem with precision.
- Sally Pipes, National Review Online, President of the Pacific Research Institute

This is a lucid and persuasive book--one of the most accessible guides I have ever seen to what is wrong with our health care system and how we might fix it. People of all ideological persuasions will find it enlightening and helpful.
- Daniel Shaviro, Wayne Perry Professor of Taxation, New York University School of Law, author of Who Should Pay for Medicare?

Crisis of Abundance pinpoints precisely where our health care spending has gone wrong. An emphasis on high-cost 'premium medicine' of marginal benefit, coupled with consumers shielded from its cost, has left us spending more for less. But Kling does more than offer criticisms--he also offers solutions. It's the Back to the Future of healthcare economics.
- Sydney Smith, publisher of Medpundit

This is one of the most important books written on health care.
- Tyler Cowen, Professor of Economics, George Mason University, copublisher of Marginal Revolution --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


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Customer Reviews

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I would recommend this book to anyone vaguely interested in the health care debate.
HVeinott
No matter what your political orientation, there will be material in this book that will bother you -- which suggests he is on to something.
James N. Schulz
This book is smart and readable, providing the reader with a great overview of parameters to consider.
Johnny & Riza

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Josh on May 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you've ever wondered why health care is so expensive in America, Kling will fill you in. Despite what many of us believe(d), it's not because of greedy pharmas or wasteful paperwork - as Kling shows, those ideas just don't hold water to explain the obscene cost hikes in recent years. Kling makes a great case that what has caused our problems is what he calls "premium medicine" - or health care spending whose cost exceeds its benefit.

As for solutions to our problems, Kling does a good job of unraveling many of the claims made by single-payer advocates, most notably that they can control costs without reducing benefits.

And when it comes to his own solutions, I found them to be very sensible (although I think he deliberately keeps them general). For example, he proposes keeping the government involved in funding health care, but ONLY for the poor and chronically ill (unlike in its current form where it also funds the elderly rich). This idea is so sensible - and seems to appeal to those on both sides of the aisle - that I'm surprised we haven't already done it.

All in all, well worth the read. Even if you generally don't like libertarian solutions to today's problems, I think you'll find Kling's book very easy to read, with far less ideology than in most other books on anything as controversial as health care.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Zeldock on March 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Crisis of Abundance" should be read by any educated person who wants to understand the healthcare crisis in the U.S. and proposals to remedy it. This short, intelligent book reviews the various theories in play to explain why the U.S. spends so much more (as a percentage of GDP) on healthcare than other developed nations; looks at the "awkward facts" facing each theory; describes the trade-offs that any system for healthcare spending cannot avoid; and presents realistic policy considerations for improvement.

Even if you normally don't read "public policy" books, you should make time for this one. It will give you a solid foundation for evaluating what politicians and pundits say about the healthcare crisis and all the different fixes, both good and bad, that will be offered for your support.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By B. Case TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
For this reader, "Crisis of Abundance" by Arnold Kling was difficult to read. Fortunately, it is very short, under 100 pages. In the end, it was well worth my brief persistence.

Anyone who wants to understand the healthcare crisis in the U.S. would benefit by reading this. The author is an economist, and the book is clearly told from an economic and public policy perspective. His goal was to write this book for the "concerned citizen," while at the same time making it credible to professional economists (p. ix). I rank this book lower than most other reviews because I believe the author partially fails in his attempt to write this book clearly for the concerned citizen.

He makes the point that what ails our national health care system is what he calls "premium medicine" -- or health care spending whose cost exceeds its benefit. He defines "premium medicine" as: "frequent referrals to specialists; extensive use of high-tech diagnostic procedures; and increased numbers and variety of surgeries" (p. 4). "If our high levels of health care spending are the result of so-called premium medicine, we should be demonstrably healthier. Yet when we attempt to examine average longevity at a national level, there seems to be no connection between American's high levels of health care spending and life span." (p. 25)

I found the book most difficult when the author was presenting policy issues. Kling states that his goal is "not to offer a package of solutions. It is to raise the level of understanding of the realities, issues and tradeoffs pertaining to health care policy" (p. 95). Here, for this reader, he succeeded. I now have a far better grasp of why the U.S. spends so much more on health care than other developed nations.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William H. Franklin Jr. on May 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Probably one of he best critiques of what ails the US healthcare system today. So-called health "insurance" isn't insurance. What is insurable about the risk that I will visit my doctor for an annual physical or my dentist for a cleaning? Why shouldn't I pay these out of pocket and use insurance to pay for what I can't pay out of pocket -- a catastrophic health incident? We get really interested in what we pay for out of our own pockets, but it has to be more than a co-pay or low deducible.

Like Social Security, people are not given an incentive to save for the healthcare needs of old age and Kling recommends a tax-exempt account which, if started at age 30 with annual contributions of $1600 and 3% real interst, would accumulate to $100,000 by age 65. At that time the owner would buy a "rest of life" insurance policy for a $25,000 premium with a $75,000 deductible. Medicare is phased out gradually. Make sense? That's why you'll never seen a politician support it. They can only think in terms of government run programs -- the same government that gave us postal "service", Medicare, and a social security programs whose paltry returns would get a commercial annuity manager fired or jailed for pocketing contributions net of payments instead of paying them to a decedent's estate.

This is a great book to read in an election year when everyone has a solution to healthcare in America.
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