You could say the passing of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) in 2010 began a new era of American healthcare; however, our society’s path towards efficient and effective healthcare systems and reform initiatives date back much earlier.

Healthcare has come a long way since the time of early American settlers. You might need a little context on how our healthcare system has evolved. There were no trained doctors or nurses then, and treatments were most likely homemade remedies. Some of the first physician training programs began in the 1750s and 60s, but was largely unregulated. The American Medical Association (AMA) was founded in 1847 with a mission to improve medical education. It wasn’t until the late 1800s and early 1900s that being treated in hospitals (rather than at home) became more common with improved sanitation practices and the introduction of antiseptics.

We started our timeline at the beginning of the 20th century when the pace of advancements in health picked up, which required a more structured care system, and ultimately, changed the way we think about healthcare. While this is not intended to represent the entire history of the American healthcare system, hopefully it shows the complexity of healthcare issues and provides insight into some of the milestones that shape present and future national healthcare discussions, legislation and reform.

 history of healthcare in america infographic