Hoover Institution Press today released Eight Questions You Should Ask about Our Health Care System (Even if the Answers Make You Sick), a book by Charles E. Phelps. Phelps is a health care economist who has spent 27 years teaching at the University of Rochester on that topic. In Eight Questions, Phelps offers a comprehensive look at the U.S. health care system, providing in-depth answers to eight key questions that shed light on the economic issues that are central to understanding how to fix the U.S. health care system.
“In terms that are both lucid and precise, Phelps explains not only what is wrong with our health care system, but also how fixing it requires a perspective that, while within the reach of us all, is rarely a part of reform debate,” said Tom Jackson, president emeritus of the University of Rochester. “Eight Questions is a ‘must read’ for anyone who wants to understand the fastest growing segment of our economy and what we should (and shouldn't) do about it.”
In Eight Questions, Phelps details the economic issues that must be addressed in order to fix U.S. health care system. He also provides an overview of how the current system evolved and then details how the health care sector operates.
Each chapter answers a pointed question about the U.S. health care system to help people become better informed on how the U.S. health care system works so that we can understand how to fix it. Phelps explains many misunderstood economic issues, such as incentives that lead to growing costs, the effect of the baby boom generation, regional differences in medical spending, hidden costs, and employee-paid insurance premiums. Phelps also explains that, in many ways, lifestyle choices dominate the health outcomes people realize during their lifetimes. Specifically, Phelps says that much of the high cost of health care ultimately derives from lifestyle choices: smoking, obesity, lack of exercise, and alcohol abuse (plus, to a much smaller extent, sexual behavior and illicit drug use). Because of this, Phelps discerns that education may well be the most powerful agent of health reform that the United States can institute.
Charles E. Phelps is the provost emeritus, professor of community and preventive medicine, and professor of politics and economics at the University of Rochester. He has been a member of the Institute of Medicine since 1991 and is author of the textbook Health Economics, 4th edition (2010).
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