David Leonhart proclaims Shannon Brownlee's Overtreated to be "the economics book of the year." It also fits into the strange category of book I would recommend even though I haven't actually read it. You see, even though I haven't read her book, I have read several reviews describing it -- not all of them quite as enthusiastic about it as Leonhart's -- and they make it clear that her perspective is interesting and important. What's more, various people who follow health care policy debates more closely than I do have told me that I have a Brownlee-esque point of view on health care policy, and so if I want to expound my views in a well-informed way I should read her book instead of talking out of my ass.
But if anything, the book's been promoted to me too highly! I read the article based on her book in the current Atlantic and it's great. So was this piece in The Washington Post and this op-ed in The New York Times. And I've heard her on the radio a couple of times, plus seen a bunch of people cite her work here and there on the internet.
Even better, the thesis is admirably clear: A system in which health care workers are paid for "providing health care" rather than for providing good health outcomes is a system that's set-up to generate lots of wasteful and counterproductive spending.
So you should read the book. And what's more, I'm going to buy a copy!
Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.