What Aspects and Characteristics of American Health Care of the 18th and 19th Centuries Have Had a Major Impact on Shaping Today’s U.S. Health Care System
The main historical developments that have shaped the health care delivery system in the United States. Knowledge of the history of health care is essential for understanding the main characteristics of the system as it exists today. For example, the system’s historical foundations explain why health care delivery in the United States has been resistant to national health insurance, which has been adopted by Canada and most European nations. Traditionally held American cultural beliefs and values, technological advances, social changes, economic constraints, and political …show more content…
The practice of midwifery—attending women in childbirth and delivering babies—was a common profession for women, since most births took place at home. Until the mid 18th century Western medicine was based on the ancient Greek principle of "four humors"—blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. Balance among the humors was the key to health; disease was thought to be caused by too much or too little of the fluids. The healing power of hot, cold, dry, and wet preparations, and a variety of plants and herbs, were also highly regarded. When needed, people called on "bone-setters" and surgeons, most of whom had no formal training.
Physicians with medical degrees and scientific training began showing up on the American landscape in the late colonial period. The University of Pennsylvania opened the first medical college in 1765 and the Massachusetts Medical Society (publishers of today's New England Journal of Medicine), incorporated in 1781, sought to license physicians. Medical schools were often opened by physicians who wanted to improve American medicine and raise the medical profession to the high status it enjoyed in