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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Overview on ways to reduce American health care costs
With all the current interest in health care reform, I found this an excellent book to provide hope and background for those of us who favor health care reform under President Obama. Written by the current CEO of Kaiser Permanente, the book systematically provides areas where cost-savings can be achieved in an easy-to-read-and-follow format.

His first and,...
Published on August 31, 2009 by George Fulmore

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4 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but misses the biggest question not being asked.....
This is a really thought provoking book with some excellent points.

Was a tad puzzled why Chapter 9 was only a handful of pages long and discussed issues like Americans being unhealthy, obese, lazy, and a few issues like food labeling etc., but nothing about Americans who love their constitutional rights and freedoms, which are written down on paper beginning...
Published on September 29, 2009 by Beth DeRoos


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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid Overview on ways to reduce American health care costs, August 31, 2009
By 
George Fulmore (Concord, California USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User's Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care (Hardcover)
With all the current interest in health care reform, I found this an excellent book to provide hope and background for those of us who favor health care reform under President Obama. Written by the current CEO of Kaiser Permanente, the book systematically provides areas where cost-savings can be achieved in an easy-to-read-and-follow format.

His first and, perhaps, most important suggestion, is, to me, a blockbuster. Per Halvorson, if we get everyone in our country insured, this, by itself, should reduce the average annual cost of health care insurance to a family of four by about $1,200. (The average cost to a family, he tells us, is now about $12,000 per year.) This cost reduction, if it could be sold to more folks in the current health care reform debate, could, of course, be a very strong argument in favor of the "public option." But Halvorson does not really tell us exactly where this savings would come from. He infers that it would be in the insurance company premium, itself. But the book is embarrassingly short on much of any criticism of insurance companies, their CEO salaries, their profits and administrative costs, etc. It is one of the flaws of the book, for sure. Perhaps the only flaw.

The strength of the book, again, is to give us hope that overall health care costs can, over time, be reduced and controlled. To get another $1,300 annual reduction, on top of the $1,200 above, he says "We need to reduce the costs of care by improving care." Among his suggestions for this are:
* Focus on the conditions that cost the most within the chronic conditions
* Reduce the number of doctors, now averaging 17, for patients with multiple chronic conditions
* Decrease the number of medication errors and post-operation infections
* Improve the "linkage" among doctors, especially the specialists, and, especially, when one patient has multiple specialists
* Reduce the payments to specialists, relative to those for primary care doctors
* Provide financial incentives for prevention of sickness and disease
* Build strategies for containing costs of age-related conditions via evidence-based methodology

As the CEO for Kaiser, Halvorson cites his organization as benefitting from its "vertical integration," which ensures that doctors with different specialties work effectively together. He also raves about Kaiser's Electronic Medical Records system, which is the result of a $4 billion data processing effort that "is probably the biggest single business systems project ever done in any industry anywhere in the world."

Halvorson thinks that we need universal care in our country. As part of his push for it, he tells us we need the "Double Mandate:" First, everyone must buy coverage, and, second, every private plan must sell coverage to anyone who applies. The question that leaps out at this point, of course, is why Kaiser does not immediately announce that it was complying with the second mandate? He goes on to tell us that "risk screening" is only implemented on about 5% of those who seek insurance, and that none of those are within employer-provided group plans. He says that the health care industry should be happy to welcome into existing insurance pools the 5% of folks now being denied individual insurance plans. O.K., Kaiser, how about starting this off first? Seems easy enough.
Also, Halverson at this point does not mention that all the other developed countries add another mandate, that of government oversight and control of the costs of drugs, procedures and services. Later, he calls for a National Commission on Health Care Costs, but he stops short from suggesting that it should have direct controls over the components of health care costs.

Near the end of the book, he tells us that "Premiums are always based on the average cost of care." I don't buy it. He obviously avoids any discussion about profits by insurance companies, including Kaiser, which apparently, as a not-for-profit, rakes in about $2 billion in a good year for its deferred earnings. And, later, he says, "we need to look at every category of spending - fees, hospital costs, drug costs, imaging costs, new technology costs, etc." Conspicuous by their absence are insurance company overhead costs, overblown CEO salaries - not necessarily at Kaiser -- and profits that go to shareholders or deferred earnings.

Says Halvorson, "Health care in America is comprised of hundreds of thousands of unrelated, unlinked, financially self-contained, self-focused, and self-optimizing business entities that are each set up to generate revenue and create financial success for themselves..." That sounds like an industry with opportunities to reduce costs and to, at the same time, improve its value to consumers.

Again, I recommend the book for those looking for more information on how the American health care industry can be reformed for the "public good."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My congressman should read this book, October 5, 2009
This review is from: Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User's Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care (Hardcover)
This book is probably the best explanation I've read on why we have the health care mess that we do in the United States. We read a lot about health care in the papers and hear stories on the news but few articles get into the real reason for the problems and even fewer into what would be a really good solution. I learned far more from this book than I have from all the other sources put together. It was interesting in the way it discussed the health system in this country compared to that of some of the other countries in a manner that was easy to understand with many examples.

I didn't realize until I finished the book that George Halverson is the CEO of Kaiser Permanente, the largest not-for-profit health plan and care system in America with over eight and a half million members. My sister worked for a company that was insured by Kaiser and she was very impressed by the electronic medical record system at Kaiser. She was able to see all of her medical test results as soon as they came back from the lab just by logging onto a password protected website and was able to see comments from any doctors or specialists she had seen in the system. She was also able to make doctor's appointments online and email her doctors. They in turn could see any medications prescribed by any of the other doctors and any comments on any condition. Halverson talks about such a system for everyone in the country and mandating that everyone be insured which would help to slow down the increases in the cost of healthcare.

According to Halverson, at least 50% of the visits to an emergency room for asthma attacks don't need to happen. Treatment for the condition varies so much from doctor to doctor and the outcomes can be very different. But hospitals and doctors in our system don't make as much money by preventing an attack as they do with a visit to the emergency room. Our system makes big money on procedures after a crisis rather than preventing them from happening in the first place. That's one of the shortcomings of the system we have. Using Kaiser an example, Halverson shows how changing how we treat just four or five conditions could save huge amounts of money that we spend now on healthcare.

Probably one of the things that surprised me the most is how many mistakes and bad outcomes we now have in hospitals in this country. What I thought was a fairly consistent system turns out to actually be very haphazard in many ways. Most medical records are now kept on paper, in files, in each doctor's office and aren't shared with any other doctor who might be treating the patient. The results of treatments also aren't shared among other doctors in most cases, so we don't always have a consistent way of treating conditions. Electronic records of outcomes with different treatments would help to establish new and better ways of treating specific conditions because doctors would have a larger sample of outcomes to compare.

I didn't find this book to be political or partisan, but rather some very good ideas of how to change our current system and make it better for everyone involved. I hope a lot more people read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Practical Ideas for Reducing Health Care Costs, September 16, 2009
This review is from: Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User's Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care (Hardcover)
George Halvorson is on to something here. You're never going to reduce health care costs until you improve health care quality. Providing better, proactive or preventive care reduces the severity of disease, complications, hospital stays, etc. When you provide quality care to a patient, his or her lifetime medical costs go down. When you provide poor quality care, the costs go up because the patient is sicker and needs more care. It is pretty simple when you think about it, but the current U.S. health care system does not provide incentives for doctors and hospitals to provide quality care, it only provides incentives (in the form of payments) for the volume of care they deliver.

If health care providers care about reducing costs now, there are actually steps they can take today, as Halvorson describes in chapter 3, "Set Goals and Improve Care." There are a handful of preventable medical events that are enormously expensive because of the hospital stays and expensive treatments that go with them. Picking three examples, Halvorson says we can reduce by 50 percent the number of kidney failures, asthma crises and heart attacks. With rare exceptions, no one in America should end up in an emergency room with an asthma crisis, because it is preventable through education and preventive care. At a local level, health care providers can start planning today and setting goals to reduce these incidents.

But as much as I like George's book and approach, I fear that the majority of our nation's health care providers are more concerned about their bottom line than patients like you and me.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful, Simple, Brilliant, July 7, 2009
By 
Christov (Minneapolis, MN) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User's Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care (Hardcover)
Mr. Halvorson succeeds yet again. In this 4th book of his healthcare trilogy, Mr. Halvorson presents the problems of our current healthcare system and prescribes simple and highly effective remedies in layman's terms. This is a great book for people who don't know much about healthcare reform and for those people who think they have all the answers. It shows that we need universal coverage (not necessarily from a single payer system), vertically integrated health IT, better communication, patient centered service, and we need to instill a healthier American culture. Great book, Mr. Halvorson. I highly recommend it.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, Easy to Read -, April 1, 2010
This review is from: Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User's Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care (Hardcover)
"Health Care Will Not Reform Itself" presents documented and logical approaches to improving America's health care 'non-system.' Throughout the material, Halvorson maintains a focus on big impact strategies, starting with chronic conditions - 75% of total costs (diabetes alone accounts for 32% of Medicare costs), yet, lacking integration of treatment (no electronic electronic medical record) or high rates of compliance with recommended treatment protocols (8% for diabetes). Halvorson also highlights how the typical method of payment (fee-for-service) typically results in decreasing revenue after complying with recommended protocols, demoralizing staff and leading to abandonment of improvement efforts. Then there's the problem of negative lifestyles - obesity rates in the U.S. have tripled in the last 25 years. and much higher than the OECD average.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book, October 5, 2013
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This review is from: Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User's Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care (Hardcover)
Although the book arrived late, however, seller was able to waive the selling cost. I enjoy every page of the book and would recommend it to anybody interested in American health care system and how to fix its man-made bottle-necks.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great book to change an industry!, February 26, 2013
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This review is from: Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User's Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care (Hardcover)
Halvorson does a great job highlighting why we need change US healthcare and how to do it.

Truly, it boils down to simple things like collecting pertinent information, catching patient health trends early and getting everyone involved in a national health plan -- it's the only way to get us ALL healthier, out of debt and on the path to health profitability.

Easy read: outlines effective business paths and solves the problem of big data clogging our caregiver/insurer databases -- we don't need more databases, we need patient and caregiver engagement by tracking simple health metrics "together".
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Overview, November 30, 2012
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George is a well known and respected health care leader and has great insight into the industry from an insurance perspective. His thesis is accurate and sets it out pretty clearly. It's not great literature but sound health care policy. His focus on the cost of chronic disease should be taken seriously and used as a model for prioritizing future policy initiatives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars worth reading, whether you are on the right or the left, May 19, 2012
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This review is from: Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User's Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care (Hardcover)
I would not have expected a compelling, engaging, witty book on this subject. I was braced for "dry." But anyone remotely interested in health care reform should read this book. Not only is it filled with important facts and an informed perspective, but it is wry and clever. The author's perspective is especially timely since it looks like the Supreme Court may be poised to give the current health care reform the heave-ho. The author is the CEO of Kaiser. I am not a Kaiser member, I do not know the author, and I do not have a dog in his fight. But I am a concerned American. And the current "nonsystem" of health care is a mess. No rational person would design the system we have. It grew on us due to a host of factors. Read the book to get a picture of what is wrong and some good ideas on how to correct it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Guide to the Healthcare Debate, January 27, 2012
By 
Rob Ollivier (PLEASANTON, CA, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User's Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care (Hardcover)
Wonder why the the Affordable Care Act is 2600 pages in length and requires years to write proceedures to make it operational? Halvorson provides a cogent executive summary of why this huge government program is needed. But the path is hazardous and the guides are blind. An excellent, well documented read. Federal intrusion may not be affordable and is ripe for a host of unintended consequences. (Added challenge: find the 2 graphical & 2 text typos.)
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Health Care Will Not Reform Itself: A User's Guide to Refocusing and Reforming American Health Care
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