US exceptionalism
in Neoliberal lives
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This chapter examines the impacts of neoliberalism on our third foundation for human development: health. It explains why Americans pay so much more for health care and do so poorly on measures of health outcomes, compared not only to rich countries but often to countries with a fraction of US per capita GDP. In contrast to explanations focusing on germs, genes, and lifestyle choices, this chapter argues that poor health today has increased as an outcome of neoliberal policy. While previous generations had successfully removed some elements of health care from the private, for-profit realm, the US still relies more on for-profit private health care delivery than any other country in the industrialized world, creating a Medical-Industrial-Complex that has successfully resisted the passage of legislation that would remove or constrain the role of profits in health care. Indeed, the role of the for-profit sector in the delivery of health care has expanded during the neoliberal period as health care delivery has increasingly been transferred to business. The chapter argues that health and illness – even intergenerationally – are distributed largely according to the profit imperative.

Neoliberal lives

Work, politics, nature, and health in the contemporary United States


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