A History of Strangled Health Care in the United States

Take this in for a moment and see how you feel about it:

A free market in medical care has not existed in America for about a century.

Isn't the problem more recent than that? One struggles to imagine it. But one doesn't have to. A recent EconTalk guest, Christy Ford Chapin, lays it out in a discussion rich with historical perspective. In discussion with the host, Russ Roberts, she lays out a historical narrative of an American Medical Association that uses its licensing power to destroy the market in medicine except for individual practictioners doing fee for service care without insurance.

The story evolves as the AMA, fearing government socialization in the aftermath of the Great Depression and WWII, seek to expand coverage to prevent the socialization of their trade. They enter into a faustian bargain with insurance companies and you land where we are today.

For those who have been frustrated with the state of medicine and the fragmentation among specialists of the medical trade, you will find an interesting and informative discussion.


Historian Christy Ford Chapin of University of Maryland Baltimore County and Johns Hopkins and author of Ensuring America's Health talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about her book--a history of how America's health care system came to be dominated by insurance companies or government agencies paying doctors per procedure. Chapin explains how this system emerged from efforts by the American Medical Association to stop various reform efforts over the decades. Chapin argues that different models might have emerged that would lead to a more effective health care system.

Christy Ford Chapin on the Evolution of the American Health Care System | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty