A former health care industry insider offers tips for securing quality care without paying top dollar.
As a consultant, debut author Heiser advised corporations on how to cut their health care costs. In this book, he makes that service available to laypeople who may be perplexed by their health insurance choices. The author notes that, due to confusion and a sense of helplessness, today’s “consumers are…disenfranchised by the healthcare complex.” His aim is to show them how to take their power back and become proactive about their health. The book provides a brief history of third-party health payments, beginning in the 1920s, and a useful rundown of the pros and cons of the Affordable Care Act. Heiser tallies the average lifetime costs of medical treatment for men and women, itemizing health care spending per year (which, combined, works out to be 17.9% of the U.S. gross domestic product), and lays out the expected prices of routine exams and catastrophic illnesses. It’s sobering to see these numbers set out so plainly; a premature birth, for example could set you back $235,245, while the high-end cost of leukemia treatment is $2.3 million. The best way to avoid astronomical medical bills is to avoid getting sick, the author observes; to that end, he discusses the cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle—good diet, adequate exercise, not smoking, and reducing stress. However, he acknowledges that even the healthy and well prepared can fall victim to random illnesses, so it’s essential to have solid coverage. His invaluable comparison of health insurance plans includes clear definitions of jargon, and he also explains hospital markups, medical tourism, and alternative or supplemental insurance plans. He gives advice on how to choose a medical provider, what questions to ask before a procedure, and how to access lower-cost prescription drugs. Along the way, the pace is snappy, with short sentences, charts, bullet points, and rhetorical questions that make all the information easily digestible and never overwhelming. The informal, no-nonsense tone occasionally verges on impolite (“Get my point?”), but ultimately, this makes sense, as Heiser wants the reader to be a wise shopper rather than a “passive participant in the system.”
A conversational guide that simplifies complex health care options.