Health Care Vs. Healthcare

Since we're just launching the new CommonHealth site, I want to make one thing clear at the outset: It's Health Care, not Healthcare.

Here's a great argument about why, posted on The Health Care Blog (see!) with a little bit of history and God thrown in. Channelling his inner William Safire, Micheal Millenson, the author of "Demanding Medical Excellence: Doctors and Accountability in the Information Age," points out that while the single word "healthcare" feels hipper and more modern than the formal "health care," nobody talks about "medicalcare driving up costs in acutecare hospitals and nursinghomes. They write about “medical care,” “acute care” and “nursing homes,” separating the adjectives from the nouns they modify."

Millenson theorizes on the genesis of the fusion:

I think a tipping point for fusing “health” and “care” was reached with the federal legislation setting up the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality at the end of 1999. AHRQ was a renamed and refocused version of the old Agency for Health Care Policy and Research, created in 1989. AHCPR, in turn, had almost been named the Agency for Health Care Research and Policy until an alert Senate staffer realized that the abbreviation would be pronounced, “ah, crap.”

If you can persuade us that "health care" should be one word, we're willing to listen.

In the meantime, we're sticking to the WBUR Style Book.

This program aired on August 30, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Headshot of Rachel Zimmerman

Rachel Zimmerman Reporter
Rachel Zimmerman previously reported on health and the intersection of health and business for WBUR. She is working on a memoir about rebuilding her family after her husband’s suicide. 



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