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Ensuring America's Health
The Public Creation of the Corporate Health Care System


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  • Date Published: May 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107044883

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About the Authors
  • Ensuring America's Health explains why the US health care system offers world-class medical services to some patients but is also exceedingly costly, with fragmented care, poor distribution, and increasingly bureaucratized processes. Based on exhaustive historical research, this work traces how public and private power merged to favor a distinctive economic model that places insurance companies at the center of the system, where they both finance and oversee medical care. Although the insurance company model was created during the 1930s, it continues to drive health care cost and quality problems today. This wide-ranging work not only evaluates the overarching political and economic framework of the medical system but also provides rich narrative detail, examining the political dramas, corporate maneuverings, and forceful personalities that created American health care as we know it. This book breaks new ground in the fields of health care history, organizational studies, and American political economy.

    • Explains why the US health care system is run by insurance companies, plagued by high costs, and increasingly has problems with medical care quality
    • Uses storytelling - including historical descriptions of prominent health care leaders, political dramas, and corporate intrigue - to plainly and straightforwardly explain an economic sector that has long baffled laymen and experts alike
    • Offers a unique history of US health care that has never been told in depth through analysis of the centers of national politics, powerful interest groups, and even individual insurance companies and physicians' offices
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    • Winner, 2016 Ralph Gomory Book Prize, The Business History Conference

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Christy Chapin's Ensuring America's Health changes the scholarly conversation about the history of our health care system. It explains how both public and private forces created Medicare in 1965 and how the 'insurance company model' of health care finance has prevailed ever since. This book is the best treatment we have of the historical dimensions of our current health care crisis and will prove to be an indispensable resource for historians and policy makers.' Edward Berkowitz, George Washington University, Washington, DC

    'A brilliant history of America's extended and expensive experience with the insurance company model of health care. Read it!' Louis Galambos, The Johns Hopkins University

    'Ensuring America's Health: The Public Creation of the Corporate Health Care System is an important history of how US health care came to be dominated by the private insurance industry. Through impressive research and argumentation, Christy Ford Chapin examines how the 'insurance company model' rose to prominence and eventually to actual governance of health care consumers and practitioners … [this book] is an essential contribution to the historiography of the US health care system and will be of great interest to historians of medicine, policy, and business.' Beatriz Hoffman, The American Historical Review

    'There is a lot to like about the book; Chapin has done extensive research and relies on both primary and secondary sources as she provides evidence for her claims.' Melissa A. Thomasson, EH.Net

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107044883
    • length: 369 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 152 x 36 mm
    • weight: 0.64kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Background: physicians choose the insurance company model, late nineteenth century to 1940s
    2. Federal reform politics: implanting the insurance company model, 1945–60
    3. Sclerotic institution: the declining power of organized physicians and the AMA
    4. Organized for profit: the hidden influence of insurance companies and the HIAA
    5. The conflicted construction of Blue Shield: caught between Blue Cross and the AMA
    6. Corporate health care: from cost controls to medical decision making
    7. The politics of Medicare, 1957–65
    8. Epilogue: the limits of 'comprehensive' reform, 1965–2010.

  • Author

    Christy Ford Chapin, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
    Christy Ford Chapin is an assistant professor in the department of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Her areas of research include political, economic, and business history, as well as the history of capitalism. A key question driving her research is how the blending of public and private power has created a distinctive form of capitalism – American capitalism. Chapin has won numerous awards to support her work, including the John E. Rovensky Fellowship in American Business and Economic History and a Miller Center for Public Affairs Fellowship. Her work has been published in Studies in American Political Development, the Journal of Policy History, Enterprise and Society, and the Business History Review.


    • Winner, 2016 Ralph Gomory Book Prize, The Business History Conference

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