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Remaking the American PatientHow Madison Avenue and Modern Medicine Turned Patients into Consumers$
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Nancy Tomes

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469622774

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469622774.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

The Fourth Necessity

The Fourth Necessity

(p.139) Five The Fourth Necessity
Remaking the American Patient

Nancy Tomes

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines how medical care became the “fourth necessity” of modern life—after food, clothing, and housing—during the postwar period. There were disagreements on what shape America's medical order would take after World War II. Some advocated for an American equivalent to Britain's National Health Service, whereas others agreed that a more “free enterprise” system would better suit the nation. In the late 1940s, the business-backed model of free enterprise prevailed, giving rise to a medical economy that moved in the opposite direction from what consumerists had hoped for. In the short run, these free enterprise modifications to the medical economy paved the way for the remarkable expansion of the health care system. This chapter considers how American medicine came into even closer alignment with the dynamics of postwar consumer capitalism, which brought a dramatic increase in the number of medical products and services available to patients but also led to more consumer dissatisfaction.

Keywords:   medical care, free enterprise, medical economy, medicine, consumer capitalism, patients, consumer dissatisfaction

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