Abstract: Meeting the 1950s Consumer Ideal in Health Care

Christy Chapin


The story of how private health interests allied to defeat president Harry Truman's proposal for federally financed universal care is well known. Additionally, scholars have demonstrated how conservatives and private health interests promoted the superiority of voluntary or private insurance in order to thwart such government programs. In this article, I advance these findings by demonstrating how politics and culture interacted to shape market institutions around a specific model of "private" health insurance that empowered insurance companies to become not only the primary financiers, but also the main supervisors and coordinators of health care.

BEH On-Line Paper