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Foreword by Harvey V. Fineberg, President of the Institute of Medicine

For decades, experts have puzzled over why the US spends more on health care but suffers poorer outcomes than other industrialized nations. Now Elizabeth H. Bradley and Lauren A. Taylor marshal extensive research, including a comparative study of health care data from thirty countries, and get to the root of this paradox: We’ve left out of our tally the most impactful expenditures countries make to improve the health of their populations—investments in social services.

In The American Health Care Paradox, Bradley and Taylor illuminate how narrow definitions of “health care,” archaic divisions in the distribution of health and social services, and our allergy to government programs combine to create needless suffering in individual lives, even as health care spending continues to soar. They show us how and why the US health care “system” developed as it did; examine the constraints on, and possibilities for, reform; and profile inspiring new initiatives from around the world.

Offering a unique and clarifying perspective on the problems the Affordable Care Act won’t solve, this book also points a new way forward.

The Oxford Handbook of Health Economics provides an accessible and authoritative guide to health economics, intended for scholars and students in the field, as well as those in adjacent disciplines including health policy and clinical medicine. The chapters stress the direct impact of health economics reasoning on policy and practice, offering readers an introduction to the potential reach of the discipline. Contributions come from internationally-recognized leaders in health economics and reflect the worldwide reach of the discipline. Authoritative, but non-technical, the chapters place great emphasis on the connections between theory and policy-making, and develop the contributions of health economics to problems arising in a variety of institutional contexts, from primary care to the operations of health insurers. The volume addresses policy concerns relevant to health systems in both developed and developing countries. It takes a broad perspective, with relevance to systems with single or multi-payer health insurance arrangements, and to those relying predominantly on user charges; contributions are also included that focus both on medical care and on non-medical factors that affect health. Each chapter provides a succinct summary of the current state of economic thinking in a given area, as well as the author's unique perspective on issues that remain open to debate. The volume presents a view of health economics as a vibrant and continually advancing field, highlighting ongoing challenges and pointing to new directions for further progress.

The problems of medical care confront us daily: a bureaucracy that makes a trip to the doctor worse than a trip to the dentist, doctors who can't practice medicine the way they choose, more than 40 million people without health insurance. "Medical care is in crisis," we are repeatedly told, and so it is. Barely one in five Americans thinks the medical system works well. Enter David M. Cutler, a Harvard economist who served on President Clinton's health care task force and later advised presidential candidate Bill Bradley. One of the nation's leading experts on the subject, Cutler argues in Your Money or Your Life that health care has in fact improved exponentially over the last fifty years, and that the successes of our system suggest ways in which we might improve care, make the system easier to deal with, and extend coverage to all Americans. Cutler applies an economic analysis to show that our spending on medicine is well worth it—and that we could do even better by spending more. Further, millions of people with easily manageable diseases, from hypertension to depression to diabetes, receive either too much or too little care because of inefficiencies in the way we reimburse care, resulting in poor health and in some cases premature death. The key to improving the system, Cutler argues, is to change the way we organize health care. Everyone must be insured for the medical system to perform well, and payments should be based on the quality of services provided not just on the amount of cutting and poking performed. Lively and compelling, Your Money or Your Life offers a realistic yet rigorous economic approach to reforming health care—one that promises to break through the stalemate of failed reform.