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From The CriticsReviewer: Anna Maio, MD (Creighton University Medical Center)
Description: This is a comprehensive look at society's challenges as we strive to provide healthcare and income security to an increasingly aging population.
Purpose: The contributors depict primarily long-term projections relating economic constraints to health policy and the political climate. This debate is vital as we plan healthcare and retirement for the elderly.
Audience: Everyone interested in this problem will find this book readable and thought provoking. It could be an excellent textbook, as both sides of each challenge are consistently presented; for example, defined benefit vs. defined contribution. Contributors are leaders in their fields, with a wide knowledge base and experience.
Features: The book is divided into four main parts including an overview of the issues, a look at the economic structure, a focus on policy issues, and the political atmosphere. Each chapter concludes with timely references. For economic novices the chapters on international perspective and budget estimates are quite readable and set a framework for the remainder of the debate. The discussion contrasting universal coverage and limiting entitlements draws readers below the surface, forcing them to rethink their positions. The scattered tables and graphics are useful and complement the text. Most chapters feature headings to break up the text, creating a reader friendly format. The index is explicit and allows the reader to search by phrase, for example Entitlement "Crisis", or individual, Greenspan, Alan.
Assessment: The authors and editors have created a timely, readable, and thought provoking text. The reader is drawn into the debate and leaves hoping that our leaders use such an approach to find long-term solutions for the healthcare and retirement needs of our increasingly aging population.