Miller Center

Christy Chapin

History, University of Virginia

Ensuring America's Health: Publicly Constructing the Private Health Insurance Industry, 1945–1970

Chapin photo

Christy Chapin is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Her interests include political, business, and economic history as well as capitalism studies. Chapin has published articles in Studies in American Political Development and the Journal of Policy History. Her book, Ensuring America’s Health: The Public Creation of the Corporate Health Insurance System, was published by Cambridge University Press in summer 2015.  Professor Chapin is now at work on a new project entitled The U.S. Economy and the Emergence of Financial Capitalism.

Her dissertation explored how insurance companies became the primary financiers and coordinators of health care by evaluating how federal policy and debates interacted with two institutional levels: first, trade and professional associations and second, ground-level organizations such as individual firms and physician offices. She showed that by 1970, government policy had helped create an expensive, corporate model of health care. Cost problems were built into the system, because doctors behaved as semi-autonomous "managers" whose interests and pecuniary concerns diverged from those of the financiers – insurance companies. Chapin concluded that federal policy helped position insurance companies at the heart of a distinctive public-private system.

Fellowship year: 2010

Mentor: Deborah Stone, Dartmouth College

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