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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Bruce J. Fried, PhD (University of North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Public Health)
Description: This book deals with managed care and market competition based healthcare reforms. The chapters are divided into three major sections dealing with the rationale behind competitive managed care, private sector initiatives, and public sector initiatives. A final chapter projects the future potential and limits of competitive managed care.
Purpose: The purpose is to apply economic theory to the analysis of competitive managed care. The book attempts to review many of the popular arguments extolling the virtues of the marketplace in healthcare and to examine critically the use of a purely economic approach to health system design.
Audience: The book is appropriately targeted to healthcare practitioners, purchasers, and consumers of healthcare services, policymakers and analysts, and graduate students in health policy, public health, and health services management. The editors and contributing authors are well recognized for their expertise.
Features: The chapters in the book are consistent in writing style and sophistication. Although each could stand on its own as a strong commentary on the health system, there is reasonable continuity among chapters. The major organizing framework, besides economic theory, is the distinction between public and private initiatives. Given the many ways that one could organize a group of nonsequential chapters, this is an acceptable organizing framework for the book. The references are current and relevant.
Assessment: A major strength of this book is its accessibility to many audiences. Economic approaches are described simply and accurately for the noneconomist. The book is well researched and in largely empirically based, but it is also quite readable for practitioners and health professionals. Another important strength of the book is its coverage of fundamental issues, such as the economics of managed care, as well as specific initiatives, such as Medicaid managed care.