How Healthcare Died and Became a Business
What happened to Drs. Marcus Wellby, Ben Casey, and Kildare? How did physicians lose control of the practice of medicine? It began in the late 1980s when MDs refused to deal with the cost of delivering health care. They took the perspective that they would help their patients, but wanted nothing to do with regulating healthcare services. They gave the purse strings of healthcare to bean counters whose primary interest is return on investment rather than providing healthcare services, and with it the control of how medicine would be practiced.
There was a freeze on wages during WW2 and the way corporations got around this was to offer health care benefits. Before this time, most people did not see MDs for conditions that were not serious. However, when given benefits, they felt entitled to take advantage of MD services and there was a major shift in the utilization of physician services.
This led to massive growth of the insurance and pharmaceutical businesses that today have taken over the medical industry. Because of the high cost of healthcare today, low cost health insurance companies, HMOs, have pressured MDs into giving up their private practices and joining them for fear of losing their patients for economic reasons. Few MDs remain in private practice.
In this process, US healthcare is now ranked 37th in the world in overall healthcare by the World Health Organization despite spending 18% of the gross national product. This is more than twice that of all the industrialized countries in the world that are ranked in front of the US.