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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Kevin J Carr, BA (University of Maryland)
Description: This book outlines medical markets in a way that presupposes no prior knowledge of economic technicalities. This update of the 2007 edition reflects some of the recent changes in government healthcare policy.
Purpose: The purpose is to describe the economics of healthcare to students and professionals who are not familiar with either subject. This topic has been dominant in American politics, and the complex technicalities of medical markets are certainly worthy of such a thorough introduction.
Audience: The author hopes to reach two groups: medical researchers, students, and administrators who have little prior understanding of economics, and economics students who want to study the application of economic principles to a real-world field. I could see a class in either field being built around this book.
Features: The book clearly describes the basic principles of markets and then applies them to of medical markets. Specifically, it details the role of patients, providers, insurance companies, and governments. It also discusses the topic from an international standpoint, comparing healthcare spending and benefits in a diverse sampling of nations. The book is most helpful in breaking up the enormous topic of medical markets into its component parts and discussing each individually. For example, hospitals and nursing homes are each discussed separately. The only drawback is that it does not specifically address the healthcare reforms recently enacted by Congress. These may change the game substantially, necessitating a fifth edition very soon.
Assessment: As someone with an economics background with no prior knowledge of medical markets or medical finance, I found I learned quite a bit from this book. It follows the typical format of an economics textbook. Technical jargon is highlighted and then fully defined. Mathematical concepts are described first in words, then in graphs. References point to further reading. This update is justified, but without a discussion of the concrete provisions of the recently passed healthcare reform law, it is conceivable this edition will be obsolete before very long.