Medicare: Where is the Common Sense? A Review of Medicare Meets Mephistopheles

6 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2007


In his deliciously funny book, Medicare Meets Mephistopheles (Cato 2006), Professor David Hyman argues that Medicare corrupts our most base impulses - urging us to grab for more than our fair share of benefits while offering providers "the prospect of staggering amounts of money - even as ... actuaries were promising Congress that the Medicare program would be easily affordable." Modeled on C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, Professor Hyman's satirical examination of Medicare is sprinkled with political cartoons, absurd (but true) stories of Medicare's over-the-top fraud enforcement efforts, and a historical account of Medicare's genesis replete with Congressmen and strippers. Medicare Meets Mephistopheles gives us a well-researched and easy-to-read primer on the biggest pot of gold in medicine. While we are not as certain as Professor Hyman is that Medicare's limitations rise to the level of mortal sins, Medicare's tendency to encourage over-consumption, its thousands of pages of "guidance," miles of red tape, and insane enforcement scheme are not serving the American public well. It just doesn't make any sense. Medicare Meets Mephistopheles should be required reading for students in courses ranging from health law to nursing.

Suggested Citation

Wilson, Robin Fretwell, Medicare: Where is the Common Sense? A Review of Medicare Meets Mephistopheles. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Vol. 34, No. 4, p. 821, Winter 2006; Washington & Lee Legal Studies Paper No. 2007-11. Available at SSRN:

Robin Fretwell Wilson (Contact Author)

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States
217.244.7582 (Phone)


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