Medicine as a Public Calling

53 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2014 Last revised: 24 Jun 2015

See all articles by Nicholas Bagley

Nicholas Bagley

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: September 15, 2014


The debate over how to tame private medical spending tends to pit advocates of government-provided insurance — a single-payer scheme — against those who would prefer to harness market forces to hold down costs. When it is mentioned at all, the possibility of regulating the medical industry as a public utility is brusquely dismissed as anathema to the American regulatory tradition. This dismissiveness, however, rests on a failure to appreciate just how deeply the public utility model shaped health law in the twentieth century — and how it continues to shape health law even today. Closer economic regulation of the medical industry may or may not be prudent, but it is by no means incompatible with our governing institutions and political culture. Indeed, the durability of such regulation suggests that the modern embrace of market-based approaches in the medical industry may be more ephemeral than it seems.

Keywords: health law, administrative law, public utility

Suggested Citation

Bagley, Nicholas, Medicine as a Public Calling (September 15, 2014). Michigan Law Review, Vol. 114 (2015, Forthcoming), U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 420, Available at SSRN:

Nicholas Bagley (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

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