UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE IN EARLY 1900S
May 2, 2007
Mandatory health insurance in the United States seemed inevitable in the early 1900s, but a resistance movement of some of the unlikeliest political bedfellows in history partnered to defeat the proposal, says Cynthia Crossen in the Wall Street Journal.
According to Crossen:
- In his 1912 presidential campaign as a Progressive Party candidate, former President Theodore Roosevelt endorsed compulsory health insurance as part of his platform.
- That same year, an organization of progressive economists -- the American Association for Labor Legislation, or AALL -- started a crusade to make health insurance mandatory for workers who earned less than $1,200 a year (about $25,000 today).
- In addition, more than a dozen state legislatures began considering compulsory health insurance based on a model bill drafted by the labor group.
However, private health insurers, fraternal organizations, pharmacists, manufacturers, labor unions, Christian Scientists, anti-Communists and physicians partnered to defeat the legislation for wildly different motives, says Crossen:
- Some labor unions maintained that the legislation would lead to the determination of who was a good insurance risk, and some private health insurers criticized the legislation as "un-American."
- Many physicians maintained that the legislation would insert the dubious judgment of the government between patient and doctor and cut their pay.
In the end, not a single state passed a health insurance law, says Crossen.
Source: "Universal Health Coverage Seemed 'Inevitable' In Early 1900s, Columnist Writes," Medical News Today, May 2, 2007.
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