Accounting for health

Calculation, paperwork, and medicine, 1500-2000

Edited by Axel C. Hüntelmann and Oliver Falk

Accounting for health


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3518-6
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: January 2021
  • BIC Category: History, Modern History, History of Medicine, Medicine / History of medicine, History of medicine, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Economic Policy, HISTORY / Social History, MEDICAL / History, Economics, finance, business & management / Economic history, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Finance & Accounting
  • Series: Social Histories of Medicine


Whether in the Swiss countryside or in a doctor's office in Boston, in German, English or French hospitals or within multinational organizations, with early vaccinations or with new pharmaceuticals from Big Pharma today, or in early modern Saxon mining towns or in Prussian military healthcare - for at least 500 years, accounting has been an essential part of medical practice with significant moral, social and epistemological implications. Covering the period between 1500-2000, the book examines in short case studies the importance of calculative practices for medicine in very different contexts. Thus, Accounting for Health offers a synopsis of the extent to which accounting not only influenced medical practices over centuries, but shaped modern medicine as a whole.


'Hüntelmann (Charité hospital, Berlin) and Falk (Univ. of Zürich) have brought together a group of gifted scholars to examine the intersecting histories of accounting and medicine, including structures and practices from both endeavors, while also giving due attention to economic history. Geographically, contributors focus on Western Europe and the US. Twin emphases, on recordkeeping and the methods of book history, inform each of the fourteen chapters, perhaps because the volume emerged from a larger project on paper technologies. For instance, in three ledgers kept between 1760 and 1820, Philip Rieder finds different purposes for keeping the records but similar competitions among physicians, who billed by social group rather than by service performed; Theodore Porter explores how 19th-century asylum directors organized data in reports to the state; while Andrea Rusnock shows how medical and financial accounting were mutually reinforcing methods of demonstrating a charity's effectiveness to donors. Other chapters consider various dimensions of medical research as well as public and private insurance in the 20th century. This book is likely to influence and even inspire further academic studies on health care, with impact comparable to that exercised by The History of Mathematical Tables, as edited by Martin Campbell-Kelly and others (CH, May'04, 41-5270), on the broader histories of mathematics and computing.'
--A. K. Ackerberg-Hastings, independent scholar
Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.
Reprinted with permission from Choice Reviews. All rights reserved. Copyright by the American Library Association.


Introduction - Axel C Hüntelmann and Oliver Falk

Part I: Keeping the books
1 Accounting, religion, and the economics of medical care in sixteenth-century Germany: Hiob Finzel's Rationarium praxeos medicae, 1565-89 - Michael Stolberg
2 'Making a living': Accounting and the medical market in and around Geneva, 1760-1820 - Philip Rieder
3 Accounted bodies and counted cases: Elliott Joslin's diabetes research, 1898-1950 - Oliver Falk

Part II: Household
4 Economies of the hospital, 1790-1910 - Axel C Hüntelmann
5 Contrasting accounting practices in the urban hospitals of England and France, 1890s to 1930s - Barry M. Doyle
6 Reforming on paper: Accounting practices in the Leuven Academic Hospitals, 1920-60 - Joris Vandendriessche
7 Asylum accounts in health and in money - Theodore M. Porter

Part III: Production
8 Charitable accounting: The Royal Jennerian Society and vaccine production - Andrea Rusnock
9 The industry of clinical trials and the rise of medico-economic accounting: The case of antidepressants, 1970-90 - Jean-Paul Gaudillière and Volker Hess
10 Accounting for Esther Smucker: The Mennonite Church, the US National Institutes of Health and the trade in healthy bodies, 1950-70 - Laura Stark

Part IV: Polity
11 States of healing in early modern Germany: Military healthcare and the management of manpower - Sebastian Pranghofer
12 Miners' chest: How performative accounting forged the ills of industry - J. Andrew Mendelsohn
13 Administrating sickness: Th e workings of an all-female sickness fund, 1898-1931 - Helene Castenbrandt
14 The health of nations: International health accounting in historical perspective, 1925-2011 - Christopher Sirrs



Axel C. Hüntelmann is Research Fellow in the Institute for the History and Ethics of Medicine at the Charité - University of Medicine Berlin

Oliver Falk is Research Fellow in the Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine at the University of Zurich

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