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Saturday, December 20, 2014

The History of Health Care and Health Insurance

The History of Health Care and Health Insurance

a cranky opinion for


The following opinion is from a cranky old man with little knowledge on the subject opined.  Opposing opinions will be ignored, but are welcome.  As always, please, no name calling and that means you, you big stupid head!

Healthcare and health insurance is all over the news these days.  How do we pay for healthcare?  Why isn’t healthcare better?  Why is healthcare so expensive? Why is insurance so expensive?  So many questions.

Is the healthcare issue something new?  What is the history of healthcare? 

The Cranky Old Man remembers

Health Care from the beginning of time to 1000 AD:

“That don’t look good.”

Health Care from 1001 AD to 1500 AD:

“I’ve seen that before…it don’t look good.”

Health Care from 1501 to 1600:

“That don’t look good, going to have to bleed it out…cost you
a chicken.”

Health Care from 1601 to 1800:

“That don’t look good, going to have to bleed it out…cost you two chickens.”

Health Care from 1801 to 1850:

“That does not look very good, give it lots of rest and keep it warm.  I’ll send you my bill, two chickens and a half dozen eggs.”

Health Care from 1851 to 1900:

“That does not look very good, give it lots of rest and keep it warm, or…can I borrow a saw?  I’ll send you my bill, two chickens and a dozen eggs.”

Health Care from 1901 to 1925:

“Hmmm, we could run some electricity through it.  Cost you a dollar.”

Health Care from 1926 to 1950:

“Take two aspirin and call me in the morning…$10 please.”

Health Care from 1951 to 1960:

“Let’s take an x-ray, shoot up some penicillin, take an aspirin and will see how it goes.  That’s $50; do you have insurance?”

Health Care from 1961 to 1980:

“That doesn’t look good, I’m going to send you to a specialist.  That will be $100…do you have insurance?”

Health Care from 1981 to 2014:

“Do you have insurance? Yes. OK, were going to have to run some tests, take some blood, do an MRI, and EKG, a WTF, and send you to a specialist.”

Health Care today:

“Who are you covered by? Oh, I’m sorry we’re not in that plan.”

In all fairness, our current healthcare is very good.  It is expensive because today’s doctors can cure stuff that in the past they just told you how long you had to get your papers in order. 

Insurance is a mess, and I’m sure doctors wish they could shed the red tape and go back to pure doctoring.  Obamacare may not be the answer, but it is probably pushing us in the right direction.  I expect we will never get it right, but we will get it better.

When I was growing up most insurance plans covered only major hospitalization and operations, and that was after a very large deductible.  Pregnancy, and child birth were not covered, they were considered optional choices by the patient.  Regular check-ups and preventative treatment was not covered.

If you went to see a doctor it was only when things were serious. On the plus side, doctors were not encumbered with frivolous patient’s complaints.  Unfortunately, patients let problems go beyond the chance for effective treatment, and preventative medicine was rare.

On the plus side, medical procedures were less expensive. Sadly medical procedures were often not very productive.

Insurance did not cover most doctor bills.  Fortunately many doctors were happy to take partial payment in small interest free monthly installments.

Yes, medical care today is expensive, insurance is expensive and it is all very complicated.  In the 1950’s TV was black and white on an 11 inch screen with 4 channels that were on the air from 6 AM to 1 PM. 

I don’t want to go back to 1950’s TV, and I don’t want to go backwards for my healthcare either.

The preceding was the opinion of a cranky old man, and not necessarily that of management…Mrs. Cranky.     


  1. People I try to explain the positive direction of health care to still don't think the way you do, Joe. I'll remember the black and white TV analogy in future.

  2. I'm not on Obama-care and I've got great insurance. It is expensive, but I like it. I am covered. That's more than I can say for some on Obama-care. Some frighting stories out there. I don't think Obama-care in its current form will succeed. I know so many medical folks that feel the same. I agree that we need healthcare for everyone, but I don't think what we have is the ticket.

    Have a fabulous day. :)

    1. I agree Sandee, but you could never develop a Rolls Royce without starting first with a Model T.

  3. I agree across the board Big Joe. Our health CARE is the best in the world. It's our health care DELIVERY that is letting us down. Doctors will tell you it's the insurance companies that are making out like bandits. #$^& lawyers aren't helping, either. Obamacare as the end result probably won't work, but as a catalyst to get us to something that will is a good thing.

  4. it always makes me crazy to see the 'managed plan discount' applied to visits and procedures when one HAS insurance to pay a good portion of the balance, yet the cash customer gets doubly screwed. i've had great insurance and very poor insurance. i'm grateful for the employers who still provide the benefit.

  5. As someone who regularly ticks off those strong-willed, rough individuals who bask in the glory of doing exactly what they want no matter the price, a good chunk of health care costs come from our lack of exercise and obesity.

    Hey I'm no saint but our rates of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease come from far too many Big Macs and surgery soft drinks. Yeah, that's a gross simplification but doctors and nutritionists will tell you a little preventive care could cut both disease rates and the price we pay for "the best health care in the world."

  6. I can't speak about health care in the USA, but here in the UK where it is, for the most part, free it is generally good - although it's not really free as we pay for it in our taxes. most of us would hate to go back to the pre-NHS days of having to pay the doctor.

  7. That is a pretty fair explanation of the history of medical care. I agree what we have isn't perfect but it is a start. We need to keep the Model T running with some modifications till that Rolls Royce cranks up.

  8. Like you I don't think Obama care in its current form is the answer but it can be improved and hopefully will be. Loved your romp through history.

  9. I want to pay in chickens! I was born too late.

  10. A few years ago I had a bone density test done. It was expensive, but it would have been a lot more expensive if I had brittle bones without knowing it and gone on unwittingly and broken a hip with all the expenses associated with it. Anyway, I remember getting about four different bills, part of which were not covered by insurance due to co-pay and deductible. I remember saying, ", where do I send my chickens? The radiologist? The hospital? The person who read the scans? The accounting office of the hospital?" I had brief visions of an office full of stuffy, wire-rimmed bespectacled accountants trying to catch the chickens running around their office...and then wrote the checks.

    Modern life is complicated.

  11. Our healthcare has definitely improved over the years, and with a specialist for absolutely everything you know that you will be going to see one, the cardiologist I was referred to is actually down the hall from my regular Doctor so I can't complain about the trip, and the fees they charge I was glad to pay with the results I got during my little trip back in Jan.

  12. Love your history of Health Care. Best thing for our healthcare is to get the lawyers and politicians out of it.

    You got four channels on the black and white TV. I thought is was only three. I was lucky to get the three on mine in the 1980s and 1990s.

  13. Health care is expensive everywhere as is insurance. I can't afford health insurance so my daughter pays for me. Luckily I'm not the type who gets ill, nor am I accident prone, so I'm rarely at the doctor.
    A lot of people out here though go to the hospital casualty with very minor complaints instead of going to their doctor or just staying home and taking some paracetamol and resting, so our hospitals are clogged up with malingerers (who could very well be ill) and emergency cases have to wait longer than they should. True emergencies like broken limbs, spurting blood or those who can't breathe effectively get rushed through of course.

  14. Yes, yes and yes. And I will charge you nothing for that agreement.

  15. Health insurance is VERY expensive but that's (mostly) because health care is expensive and it's improving all the time.
    here in Australia we hear scary things about health care in the US and it really does seem to me like Obamacare is a step in the right direction. You have to start somewhere and the first iteration is usually terrible, but s necessary first step.

  16. We all need health insurance and be covered regardless of our previous conditions or financial stability. Obamacare, like medicare does that.

    Our problem as a nation is that we like only things that benefit our pocketbook. We used to finance schools in each town by passing local taxes. Good for rich towns. Not so good for rural districts. Government' role is to help the entire nation with issues only the government can successfully deal with: education, health and welfare, safety,


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