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Medicare Meets Mephistopheles Paperback – August 10, 2006

6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1930865921 ISBN-10: 1930865929

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"One need not agree with Hyman's critique of Medicare to see the merit of expressing pro-market criticism in easy-to-read satire. What's more (and unexpected), you can learn more about the relevant history of this important program in this book's clear account of its origins, structure, and financing than in scholarly tomes or the impenetrable babble of descriptions of Medicare's current reforms. A useful volume for Medicare backers as well as detractors." -- PROFESSOR TED MARMOR, Yale University, author of The Politics of Medicare

"I'd happily recommend [the book] to anyone with a basic grasp on health care and a desire to learn a bit more about Medicare. Hyman is a felicitous and fun writer, and he conveys an impressive amount of history and data in as accessible and absorbable a manner as one could hope. I know how tricky it is to make health care a quick and gripping read, and I tip my hat to anyone who is capable of enriching the debate and educating readers by doing so." -- EZRA KLEIN, The American Prospect

"Medicare is the single largest threat to limited government in my lifetime, and Medicare Meets Mephistopheles is the best book I have ever read on the subject. If you have ever had anything to do with Medicare, you will see yourself in this book." -- WILLIAM A. NISKANEN, Chairman, Cato Institute

"David Hyman breaks the mold by presenting the history and dismal future of Medicare with a combination of humor and persuasion. This book is a must read for anyone who is serious about understanding the coming entitlement crisis. Hyman's reward in the hereafter will be great." -- THOMAS R. SAVING, Public Trustee of Medicare Trust Funds and Director, Private Enterprise Research Center, Texas A&M University

"David Hyman proves that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. That road is a highway dubbed Medicare, and Hyman demonstrates that our good intentions are hastening our journey. He even offers some ideas for voiding our pact with the devil. Whether you ultimately agree or disagree with Hyman's philosophy, this is a fun and challenging read!" -- PROFESSOR LARRY J. SABATO, Director, University of Virginia Center for Politics, author of Divided States of America

"The book does a great job clarifying some complex Medicare law--the glossary and primer on Fraud and Abuse Laws alone are worth the purchase price." -- FRANK PASQUALE, Associate Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School, writing at

"A slim volume that revels some eternal - and perhaps internal - truths about America's version of the welfare state. Readers will remember Hyman's book every time a speaker at a conference remarks that 'the devil is in the details.'" -- PROFESSOR WILLIAM M. SAGE, University of Texas Law School.

About the Author

David A. Hyman is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and a professor of law and medicine at the University of Illinois. Hyman serves on the editorial board of the American Journal of Law & Medicine.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 138 pages
  • Publisher: Cato Institute (August 10, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930865929
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930865921
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,446,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lloyd Hyman on January 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Professor David Hyman has used the seven deadly sins to serve up an easy to read description of the Medicare mess. His satirical approach is both amusing and on target. I think this small volume is required reading for both the layman and the expert. The book supplies a historical perspective, and provides a useful focus on the Medicare problem areas. I think this focus and fact driven perspective is essential, if the nation is to make any progress confounding Mephistopheles.
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Format: Paperback
No ordinary survey, MEDICARE MEETS MEPHISTOPHELES takes the form of allegory, and is written as a memorandum from an underling demon to the devil himself. Devilish details demonstrate Medicare's pitfalls and the foundations that only undermine honesty and encourage greed and profiteering. In using satire as a vehicle for analysis, Hyman provides a biting analysis easy to digest.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on October 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
David Hyman wrote in the Preface to this 2006 book, "Given Medicare's centrality to health care and health policy, it is not surprising that it has attracted considerable attention---including a 2003 conference ... on 'The Future of Medicare, Post-Great Society and Post-Plus Choice: Legal and Policy Issues.' I was invited to speak at the conference... the Cato Institute (where I am an adjunct scholar) read my contribution ... and invited me to turn it into a short book, in the hope that my satirical take on Medicare would be of interest to a larger audience." (Pg. xvii)

He intersperses his serious discussion with an allegory (a la C.S. Lewis's 'Screwtape Letters') in the form of letters from 'Underling Demon 666' to 'Lucifer, Prince of Darkness.'

He notes that "Medicare does not cover long-term nursing care. Overall, Medicare pays for roughly 45 percent of the health care expenditures of its beneficiaries." (Pg. 15) He observes, "Medicare's proponents routinely brag about its low administrative overhead. Of course, the figure is artificially low because Medicare has no marketing expenses, and its uses employers, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Social Security Administration to collect and process its premiums." (Pg. 25)

He asserts that "Medicare is only 'affordable' because of the infusion of hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies from the rest of the population. There has been no popular uprising in favor of a one-payer system, despite periodic attempts to package it as 'Medicare for all.'" (Pg. 49) Later, he adds, "Everyone knows that Medicare spending is increasing dramatically, in both relative and absolute terms. Demographic projections and the ever-increasing cost of health care ensure that the program's economics are simply unsustainable." (Pg.
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