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Healthcare in the United States: How it Works

The public must have access to comprehensive, high-quality health care services in order to promote and maintain fitness, prevent and treat illness, reduce unnecessary disability and premature death, and ensure health equality for all Americans.

However, how does the healthcare system in reality operate? Is it open to the general public? What is the significance of health coverage? To understand our current healthcare system, we need to look back at the history of healthcare in the United States. When it comes to the United States’ efforts to provide affordable healthcare to its citizens, history repeats itself.

The development of the American healthcare system

Mid-to-late 1700s

Domestic and traditional healing methods, frequently administered by women in the family, are widespread. Doctors will come to your house in the event of an emergency. In the late 1700s, the first medical schools opened in the United States, bringing with them the standardization of clinical procedures and the licensing of physicians.

Doctors have developed a reputation for being able to speak with authority. As cities grow in population, the disease is more likely to spread due to congested conditions and inadequate sanitary facilities.


The American Medical Association (AMA) is in charge of organizing and regulating the industry of prescription drugs. The railroad industry has pioneered innovative employee medical programs in response to the industry’s high injury rate.

It is not uncommon for doctors and surgeons who specialize in railway surgery to form associations to share information. Payment is due at the time of service for the majority of healthcare, which is referred to as “fee-for-service.” Both private health insurance and employer-sponsored health insurance are available to a limited number of people.


Tongue surgery became common in the early 1900s as a means of removing cancerous and infected tumors. A National Health Service for the elderly, unemployed, and disabled was proposed by the Progressive Party in 1912. AMA and other groups opposed the proposal, and the Progressive Party disbanded in 1916. But the concept of social insurance would have a long-term impact. By the 1920s, hospitals were clean, modern, and well-equipped.


During the Great Depression, there is an increase in the demand for health care, pensions, and other forms of unemployment assistance. Henry Kaiser sets a standard of care for his aqueduct workers with a local hospital. As a result, the managed care system that underpins today’s HMOs and PPOs were born with the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan.

The Social Security Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935. Health insurance was something he considered including in Social Security, but political pressure forced him to drop the idea. It is despite this that the Social Security Act was the first major government effort to help the elderly.

Because of wartime wage restrictions, businesses began providing healthcare assistance in the 1940s. This eventually gave way to the employer-based system that is still in use in the United States of America today. More private health insurance companies are offering coverage to meet the growing demand. The antibiotic penicillin has become a common treatment for bacterial infections.


At this point in American healthcare history, the cost of hospital treatment doubled. Health care services for the poor and uninsured have expanded since the Great Depression, thanks in part to private insurance options. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law because the elderly cannot afford health insurance.

Nixon changed the name of community health plans to HMOs in the 1970s. Smallpox is eliminated, and the percentage of women in medicine grows from 9% to over 25%. At a rate twice that of other goods and services, healthcare costs have skyrocketed since the 1990s.

The federal government’s latest attempt to restructure healthcare has failed, leaving more than 16% of the population without health insurance. Since the turn of the century, healthcare costs have risen steadily, leading many to question whether Medicare can be maintained.


Healthcare in the United States has received a major boost since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law in 2010. Pre-existing conditions cannot be excluded from coverage under the Affordable Care Act’s approved plans. Obamacare’s individual mandate imposes tax penalties on people who fail to maintain their health insurance coverage. Affordable Care Act (ACA)-approved health insurance plans can be compared through the Health Insurance Marketplace, which is a feature of the Affordable Care Act.

A look at today’s world

Health care in the United States consists of a mix of government and private programs. Employers cover the vast majority of Americans’ medical expenses. There is no Medicaid or Medicare coverage for the poor, the elderly, federal employees, or members of Congress under the federal government. Services provided by the government itself cover the rest of the workforce.

Numerous private companies are also working in tandem to provide the people of the United States with the healthcare they require. Many Americans prefer to use state-run services instead of these private companies.

First time in a decade, the number of people without health insurance in the United States has decreased since the Affordable Care Act was implemented. Nearly all senior citizens are covered by Medicare, and those with low incomes are supported by Medicaid. Because of this significant advancement, more than 16 million Americans now have access to health care.

In order to meet the rising demand for healthcare, a growing number of healthcare providers have emerged to serve the general public. Even at Walgreens, you can find local health system operators who provide high-quality care.

Additionally, the digital age has made healthcare providers more accessible and convenient for patients to contact. The internet has made healthcare operations more efficient by facilitating financial and administrative transactions, public health surveillance, professional education, biomedical research, and better patient outcomes, among other things.

This country’s healthcare system has been through a lot over the years. Looking back, the healthcare system has improved significantly, but there is still a long way to go before health equity for all Americans is achieved in the final analysis.