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"Un-American" or unnecessary? America's rejection of compulsory government health insurance in the Progressive Era

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  • Emery, J.C. Herbert

Abstract

Between 1915 and 1920, 18 U.S. states considered the introduction of compulsory health insurance. Progressive reformers expected state health insurance to be welfare enhancing for American wage-workers since it would result in lower cost insurance and an extension of coverage to more of the population. The evidence presented in this paper indicates that the absence of broad political support for health insurance legislation in this early period reflects that compulsory insurance would not have improved on what was available and affordable through voluntary arrangements and had the potential to reduce the welfare of wage-earners.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Explorations in Economic History.

Volume (Year): 47 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 68-81

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Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:47:y:2010:i:1:p:68-81

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830

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Keywords: Health insurance Social insurance Self-insurance Savings Progressive Era;

References

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  1. Horrell, Sara & Oxley, Deborah, 2000. "Work and prudence: Household responses to income variation in nineteenth-century Britain," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 4(01), pages 27-57, April.
  2. I. M. Rubinow, 1915. "Standards of Sickness Insurance: I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23, pages 221.
  3. Thomasson, Melissa A., 2002. "From Sickness to Health: The Twentieth-Century Development of U.S. Health Insurance," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 39(3), pages 233-253, July.
  4. Weaver, Carolyn L., 1983. "On the lack of a political market for compulsory old-age insurance prior to the great depression: Insights from economic theories of government," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 20(3), pages 294-328, July.
  5. I. M. Rubinow, 1915. "Standards of Sickness Insurance: II," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23, pages 327.
  6. Emery, J. C. Herbert, 1996. "Risky Business? Nonactuarial Pricing Practices and the Financial Viability of Fraternal Sickness Insurers," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 195-226, April.
  7. Dora L. Costa, 1995. "The Political Economy of State Provided Health Insurance in the Progressive Era: Evidence from California," NBER Working Papers 5328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Davis, Karen, 1989. "National Health Insurance: A Proposal," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(2), pages 349-52, May.
  9. I. M. Rubinow, 1915. "Standards of Sickness Insurance: III," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23, pages 437.
  10. Ehrlich, Isaac & Becker, Gary S, 1972. "Market Insurance, Self-Insurance, and Self-Protection," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(4), pages 623-48, July-Aug..
  11. Di Matteo, Livio & Herbert Emery, J. C., 2002. "Wealth and the demand for life insurance: evidence from Ontario, 1892," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 39(4), pages 446-469, October.
  12. Gratton, Brian, 1996. "The Poverty of Impoverishment Theory: The Economic Well-Being of the Elderly, 1890–1950," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 56(01), pages 39-61, March.
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