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Book Review: Health Care on Less Than You Think by Fred Brock

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Health Care on Less Than You ThinkIf you’re like me, every year you sign up for your health insurance plan through your employer and ever year you do little to check what that insurance actually covers. The only exception to this rule is when you change plans (usually because you changed employers) and then you might compare and contract, but otherwise it’s on autopilot. You probably do that because health insurance is boring, complicated, and your insurance will probably protect you. Therein lies what I enjoy the most about Fred Brock’s book, Health Care on Less Than You Think: it’s simplicity, conversational style, and an ease to read. So what is the book about? It covers basically every aspect of health insurance that you could possible imagine, including health savings accounts, saving on prescription drug medications, and even goes through the fine print of your insurance plan – all with an eye at saving you money and having it cost as little as possible.

One of the scariest parts about this book was when I jumped to the fine print chapter, Chapter 7: Mastering Your Insurer’s Fine Print, where it begins with Brock detailing an anecdote by Richard Price, a retired equity portfolio manager in Miami Beach, Florida, where Price had found, after reading his explanation of benefits (EOB – the mailing you get from your insurer after you have service performed detailing the costs, what was covered, what wasn’t) found that he was being underpaid by his insurance company by $10,000 over the last two years. I usually give my EOBs a cursory glance (very very cursory) but as your medical expenses increase, it’s critically important for you to review a lot of these documents because $10,000 is serious money – especially if you’re on a fixed income retirement. Unfortunately, as a savvy consumer, we need to stay on top of the insurance companies (and any company really) even though it should be unnecessary. In this particular anecdote, it was sloppiness and carelessness on the part of Aetna that led to these errors – not fraud but you never know.

Lastly, while not immediately applicable to me, one chapter that I know is probably of great value is the one on finding insurance once you’re off or out of the a job (Off The Job is the title, it’s chapter three) because finding independent insurance is very difficult and very expensive. When my fiancée left her job at in New Jersey and moved down to Maryland, she floated on COBRA insurance for a little while (luckily never having to activate it) and then she sought out independent insurance for a few months after that. If I had this book back then, I would’ve known that after COBRA comes HIPAA – Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. While expensive, HIPAA gives former employees the ability to get insurance regardless of preexisting conditions and no waiting periods. That bit of information alone is probably worth the $15 list price (only $10 from Amazon)of the book (or some late fees from the library).

After reading this book, I think I’m going to try to find Brock’s other two books and give them a look – Retire on Less Than You Think and Live Well on Less Than You Think. You can really tell that this guy “wrote for the masses,” in that nothing is overly verbose and chunky. If you don’t know your health insurance (especially the fine print and the little tricks of their trade) and need some help, I’d recommend giving this book a quick read.

{ 5 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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5 Responses to “Book Review: Health Care on Less Than You Think by Fred Brock”

  1. Barry says:

    I don’t quite understand the situation in Chapter 7. How exactly did the insurance company owe him money? Is it because he paid for things they should have covered? Please clarify. Thanks.

  2. jim says:

    They didn’t pay entirely for some things that they should have, he found they were paying around 70% of the service instead of 100%. He also found that he was being double billed for some services (I don’t remember if the provider was double billing the insurer or the insurer was double recording) and the insurance company didn’t catch on (like two visits on the same day type stuff). Basically it was sloppiness type errors.

    I hope that helps.

  3. EasyChange says:

    Did he handle the issues with regard to secondary insurance ? What about Medicare Part D? IS that covered as well? You say he wrote to the masses, but I am wondering what age group he targets.

  4. jim says:

    He does discuss secondary insurance, explains how it works, and gives his own example of how he takes advantage of it. Both he and his wife pay for medical insurance from their companies and so the other plan covers the overage. He recommends it.

    He also goes extensively into Medicare, including Part D (which governs prescription drug benefits, as well as the other parts.

    So, I really do feel as though he wrote to the masses both in the language he used (my initial meaning) and the topics he covered.

    Thanks for the great question!

  5. ron says:

    Mr. Brock should do a sequel now that the health care bill has passed. His book was the single best book on the issue prior to the USA finally joining the rest of the developed world in providing quality, affordable health care to ALL its citizens, however imperfect the law that passed is in its over-reliance on the private sector to do the job.

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