One econ major. Three (or more) opinions.

I’ve been trying to get my office organized over the past few weeks and, in the process, uncovered a lot of great books that I had been planning to write about.

This seemed to be a good week to write about them.

First, there are some great Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) reference works.

One, Healthcare Reform Facts, was written by Alson R. Martin and published by a LifeHealthPro.com sister company, the venerable National Underwriter Company. 

Our wall between editorial “church” and business office “state” is so high that no one even sent me a review copy. I picked it up off a pile left by someone else’s efforts to clean up another office. The book is actually a really useful guide to PPACA that analyzes specific, insurance-related provisions of the law in enough detail to be useful to an insurance professional but in human-readable language.

If you need a guide the summarizes the PPACA insurance provisions in language that an employer client can understand, one good option is the Business Owner’s Guide to Healthcare Reform and Group Insurance, by Scott Hafetz.

For a center-right PPACA alternative, you might consider Priceless: Curing the Healthcare Crisis, by John C. Goodman. In addition to giving ideas about free-market, account-based approaches to fixing the U.S. health care system. Goodman includes explanations about how government intervention in the health care system can lead to unpleasant, completely unintended consequences.

If you have an interest in reading health market research straight from the researchers’ mouths (or word processors), consider subscribing to Inquiry: The Journal of Health Care Organization, Provision and Financing. A lot of times, I get a copy of the journal and make big plans to write long, in-depth articles about brilliant, clearly written, but somewhat dense papers, then get caught up in writing about the urgent breaking news of the day and find that the hot article I wanted to write about is “suddenly” five months old. If you want to be your own health policy wonk, subscribing to Inquiry would be a good way to start.

If you are feeling depressed, either about PPACA or about opposition to PPACA, or about some other problem, A Nation of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America’s Financial Disasters, by Scott Reynolds Nelson is a good read.

On the one hand: A Nation of Deadbeats doesn’t really have anything to do directly with health policy.

On the other hand: If the country could survive the banking crisis of the 1790s — which threatened the very willingness of the original 13 U.S. states to stay together — then it seems as if the union ought to be able to survive some controversy over whether the country should rely mainly on public health insurance exchanges or mainly on private health insurance exchanges.

On the third hand: The Roman empire survived all sorts of terrible crises, time and time again, over the course of many centuries … until, one day, it didn’t.

So, you never know. The best thing is to eat, drink, read good books and be merry, because the future is even harder to read than the correction to a preliminary version of a Federal Register PDF of a draft notice of proposed rulemaking for guidance to interpret the federal plan excise tax provisions of PPACA and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Which is pretty hard. 

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