Economic History and the Healthcare Industry

Authored by: Melissa Thomasson

Routledge Handbook of Modern Economic History

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  January  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415677042
eBook ISBN: 9780203075616
Adobe ISBN: 9781135121211


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Over the past 100 years, the healthcare industry in the United States has radically transformed. In 1900, hospitals were places where only people without family to care for them would go. There were no effective pharmaceuticals, and the average person spent only $134 (in 2011 dollars) per year on medical care (Craig 2006: 3–232). Physicians could not effectively treat disease, and physician training was rudimentary. Over the course of the twentieth century, significant changes occurred in physician education, technological development, hospital care, health insurance, and in the level of government involvement in the provision of healthcare. Together, these changes reshaped the industry. By 2009, healthcare expenditures reached $8,086 per capita, and healthcare spending accounted for 17.6 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services 2011).

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