Mary Ruwart nicely summarizes how the American Medical Association and legislation biased toward insurance companies crowded out health care mutual aid societies. Today their equivalents are health care cooperatives. The following is from The Liberator Online, June 24, 2010:
QUESTION: I think part of the problem with today’s health care system is the over-reliance on insurance companies. They are (rightfully) in the business of making money, and as a result they keep raising premiums.
What about the idea of competing with them by fostering the creation of non-profit insurance and/or medical co-ops? In a co-op, any profits would stay in the co-op to offset the additional cost of helping those currently lacking basic care.
MY SHORT ANSWER:
You’ve pretty much described the “mutual aid societies” that once protected Americans against medical disasters — before government regulated them out of business for the benefit of the doctors and insurance companies.