Elizabeth Holmes, the Theranos founder who dressed up as Steve Jobs and wowed west-coast VCs and east-coast magazines with imaginary blood testing machines, is embarking on her long trial on fraud charges after the company's collapse. At The New Republic, Natalie Shure remarks that the usual criticism—the technology never worked—isn't the deepest problem with Theranos. The whole idea of instant mechanical screenings, marketed directly to patients as a lead generator for marketing them medications, is scientifically dubious and doomed to the usual patterns of irrational fear and consumption. Had Theranos not been a fraud, it would not likely have improved medical outcomes and would definitely have embodied everything that's wrong with healthcare in America.
Theranos pushed hard for its "patients-as-consumers" idyll, lobbying Arizona lawmakers to pass legislation the company practically devised itself to allow individuals to order lab tests without a physician to facilitate the company's big rollout into several-dozen stores. But the state's loosey-goosey regulatory climate wasn't the only reason the firm zeroed in on it as a springboard for its product: Arizona's high rate of uninsured residents also struck Holmes and her colleagues as a business opportunity, as they imagined that people paying out of pocket could be enticed by Theranos's low-priced menu and try to make do without access to primary care.