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Review: Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely by Davis Liu
Posted By Jim On 08/23/2008 @ 9:06 am In Reviews | 3 Comments
One of the great paradoxes of our nation is that we spend far more, by a great margin, than any other country on healthcare yet we don’t live the longest. According to a report from the NCHC  [PDF], which was based on other research, we spent $2.3 trillion on health care in 2007 or about $7600 per person. (that article lists a lot of other sobering statistics).
Part of the reason is because the system is so complicated and convoluted. When a doctor orders a battery of exams, it he or she motivated by expertise, fear, or greed? Is the test what is actually needed because the doctor needs to rule out a particular condition, or does the doctor fear malpractice suits so he orders every possible exam, or does the doctor need to up his pay this month because he has a vacation soon? While I’d say that most medical practitioners operate out of expertise, there is a subset that operates, if only sometimes, in the other two groups too.
That’s where Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely by Davis Liu  comes in. It’s a guide to help you navigate the complexities and vagaries of the American healthcare system.
Who is Dr. Davis Liu? He’s a board-certified family physician with the Permanente Medical Group in Northern California, graduate summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the Wharton School of Business and the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and has written several opinion pieces that have appear in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Sacramento Bee.
That’s the subheading of a section in which Dr. Liu explains how you can be a smarter consumer of medical care, specifically with respect to the billing process. He tells one story about his brother who saw a general practitioner and specialist for a throat issue. His brother confirmed with the insurance company that the visits would be covered yet was billed anyway. Fortunately, due to diligent note taking which included which representatives they spoke to, the issue was resolved and the brother didn’t have to pay anything.
The lesson here is that you should question everything, since most medical bills contain errors, and confirm with the insurance company as to whether something is covered (unless it’s a true medical emergency).
The book has a lot more in it than I explained so here’s a listing of what’s included in each of the eight parts:
Stay Healthy, Live Longer, Spend Wisely is far more comprehensive than I gave it credit for when I first opened it. I expected a book that discusses health insurance, government plans like HSAs and FSAs, and medical expense related ideas but this one really went above and beyond that. The sections discussing all the specialists, the various medications, and even looking to the future of medicine was a nice bonus. Another nice bonus was Dr. Liu’s style, I can see why he would be asked to write opinion pieces in the newspaper because he has a very easy style that likely translates into a comforting bedside manner.
If the whole world of medicine intimidates you, this book can help by giving you a good basic understanding of the whole breadth of the medical world.
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 One of the great paradoxes of our nation is that we spend far more, by a great margin, than any other country on healthcare yet we don’t live the longest. According to a report from the NCHC: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/r/amazon.php?asin=0979351200
 Predictably Irrational: http://www.bargaineering.com/articles/r/amazon.php?asin=006135323X
Thank you for reading!