Monday, November 6, 2006

No-Nonsense Book Review: "Health Care on Less Than You Think" by Fred Brock

Author: Nick
Category: Money
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health care on less than you think by fred brock

Title: Health Care on Less Than You Think
Author: Fred Brock

Short Attention Span Summary. Tips and tricks for cutting your health care costs. Useful for people with multiple options, no employer health plans, or little money for insurance premiums.

What’s in the book? Health Care on Less Than You Think provides a broad analysis of the state of U.S. health care. The book opens with an interesting look at the events which led to the current health care crisis, and the rest is designed to make sure you don’t become another victim of the crisis. Topics covered include:

  • Common health insurance terminology you should know to help you find the best plan for you.
  • A detailed look at Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), a new concept which can save certain people money in the same way a higher-deductible car insurance policy can save a driver money but with the added benefit of using tax-free dollars to pay medical expenses. Brock spells out with clear, concise examples who can benefit from HSAs.
  • Creative solutions to obtaining individual health insurance. For example, Brock suggests moving to one of five guaranteed-coverage states (Maine, Mass., NJ, NY, and Vermont) if you can’t get insurance elsewhere.
  • Comparisons of HMO, PPO, and HSA plan prices and the range of expenses which may come with each. This part definitely makes pricing policies and options a little easier.
  • Tips for saving money on prescriptions, from shopping around, ordering cheaper higher-dosage pills and splitting them to your needs, or buying name brand (but not generic, which are more expensive) from Canada.
  • An easy-to-understand chapter on Medicare, its costs, and gaps in coverage–along with ways to overcome the gaps and how much it will cost to do so.

my diagnosis: you are allergic to money, so give me all of it

The best part of this book is Chapter 7: Mastering Your Insurer’s Fine Print. A better title would have been “When Insurance Companies Attack” as this section explains how to deal with rejections, disputes, and unexpected charges. I hope nobody who has insurance ever needs to use this chapter, but it provides a series of smart strategies for handling situations when your insurance doesn’t behave as expected.

People who need to read the book probably can’t afford it. There’s a lot of great information on obtaining affordable health care, especially for those who can’t keep up with the pinch of monthly premiums or who aren’t healthy enough to qualify for individual coverage. Brock offers practical advice and real-world examples for slashing medical costs, and anyone struggling to pay their doctor bills should find at least one or two useful tidbits that will save them money.

People who may want to read the book… Anyone who is confused by multiple employer plan options. Not sure if an HMO or an HSA is your best choice? Health Care on Less will help you calculate the costs and determine the risks and rewards of each option.

cut prescription costs: replace pills with mike and ikes

How did this book help me? I definitely have a better understanding of how health insurance works. My own options are limited to my employer’s various HMOs, but the book inspired me to ask my employer to start offering HSAs since they could save me a lot of money. Hopefully that pans out; in the meantime, I haven’t picked up on any tips that’ll save me money on health care overnight. But if my insurance provider ever decides to pick a fight with me, I’ll be armed with some tough strategies for fighting back.

Is this book worth buying? The people who stand to save the most money with the techniques in this book are those who aren’t sure which insurance option to choose. Brock presents examples where people saved thousands by doing the math and making careful health care elections. These are calculations you can do by yourself with information from health care providers, but Brock’s examples make them a lot easier. As an added bonus, you’ll find some useful tables in the back of the book to help price your plan options and keep track of services rendered.

Health Care on Less will pay for itself if your finances are tight and you need to pay for your own health care. The chapter on prescription drugs alone could save you a ton with lots of ways to find cheaper pills. Again, while you could dig up this information yourself, Brock spells it out with stylish charts, fun examples, and easy guides that are sure to help you cut down on your medical costs.

Buy Health Care on Less Than You Think on Amazon.com ($10.20 as of November 6, 2006).

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