Roy Porter on Rising Cost of American Medicine

Blood and Guts Cover

The historian of medicine, Roy Porter, devotes a couple of pages to the development of medicine in America in his book Blood and Guts: A Short History of medicine. He notes that the development of private medical insurance and the fees-for-service system in America caused medicine to become a highly developed and lucrative industry. Competition was at the heart of this system, with doctors and hospitals competing to offer better medical service, such as better tests, a fuller range of elective surgery, more check-ups and so on. However, the costs of these procedures became correspondingly expensive, so that President Truman in 1948 mooted a national health service for America. This came to nothing, however, as the American Medical Association campaigned against it.

Part of the American system of private health care are the HMOs, the Health Maintenance Organisations, which began with the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in California. These arose as a cheaper alternative to ordinary medical insurance like Blue Cross. Porter states that health costs have continued to rise, not just in terms of medical personnel and equipment itself, but also in the growth of hospital bureaucracy, administrative and marketing teams – including corporate finance, lawyers, medical insurers, public relations firms and accountants. He states ‘Expenditure has continued to rise, quite disproportionately to measurable improvements in health.’ (p. 167). The result is that by 2000 40 million Americans had no medical insurance. That’s almost one in six people under the age of 65.

This is the system that Cameron, Clegg and Farage wish to import over here. Meanwhile in America, Conservatives are attacking the soaring costs of medicare and Medicaid, introduced by Lyndon B. Johnson to allow the state to pay for the medical care of the poor and elderly, who couldn’t afford it.

There are 92 Tories and Lib Dems, who have links and positions on the private health companies waiting to profit from the Tories’ privatisation of the NHS. Andrew Lansley, the current health minister, is a supporter of the privatisation of the health service.

If they win, and get another term, we will not see the NHS survive. The poor will be deprived medicine, but the Tory, Lib Dems and Kippers will profit immensely.

We mustn’t let them.

Labour NHS Privatisation UKIP

NHS-privatisation

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