Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Book Review: Why Obama's Government Takeover of Health Care Will Be a Disaster

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a new series of political pamphlets that were about to be published. I received the first one, and have been fairly impressed. Encounter Books is releasing a series of the pamphlets (at around $6 each). They are short and designed to be read in one sitting. The first one in the series is Why Obama's Government Takeover of Health Care Will Be a Disaster (Encounter Broadsides) written by David Gratzer.

First the book. The format is very interesting. I have ordered the next two in this series and I am interested to see how they look. This one is 44 pages, and is about the height and width of a Reader's Digest. However, the paper is pretty high quality. I have a habit of highlighting and writing in my non-fiction books and the paper works very good for this.

Mr. Gratzer is a physician and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He has written previous books on medicine and health care and has appeared in The Weekly Standard, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He also draws from personal experience in this book.

The book is really good. The first 31 pages list the problems with Obamacare, citing specific evidence from other nations that have some form of socialized medicine. The last 13 pages list ten points that could be used to reform health care in the United States.

Mr. Gratzer points out that government run health care has its own problems:

In Alberta, Canada's wealthiest province, 50 percent of outpatients waited more than 41 days for an MRI scan in 2008. In Saskatchewan, 10 percent of patients awaiting knee-replacement surgery waited 616 days or longer for care. In Nova Scotia, 50 percent of hip-replacement patients waited 201 days or longer for surgery. Wait times for these and other procedures don't factor in any wait to get a referral from a family doctor -- and more than 4 million Canadians can't find a family doctor because of a national doctor shortage created by government cutbacks to medical schools in the 1990's. The situation is so dire that some townships hold lotteries, with winners gaining access to a family doc. {emphasis in the original}

The book contains other examples of problems with government run health care from European nations as well. The solutions provided in the afterward include ideas such as ending defensive medicine, revamping the FDA and the estimated $1 Billion to get a single drug to reach the market, and making health insurance more like other kinds of insurance. Finally, the book ends with a case study in a successful attempt to revamp health care at the business level: Safeway. They were able to get a "net zero percent (0%) gain in per-employee health insurance costs. " Other businesses had an almost 40% increase over the same time period.

In spite of it's long title, Why Obama's Government Takeover of Health Care Will be a Disaster is a very good read. It can be read in one sitting and is full of useful information in the health care debate. It should be considered a primer in the health care debate.

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