Americaâ€™s Rejection of Compulsory Government Health Insurance in the Progressive Era and its Legacy for National Insurance Today
AbstractBetween 1915 and 1920, 18 U.S. states considered the introduction of compulsory health insurance. Given the alleged deficiencies of voluntary arrangements for insuring sickness, reformers expected social 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. Scholars commonly ascribe the inability of states to introduce government health insurance to American ideology and institutions that prevented the political mobilization of wage-workers. They view the lack of government insurance as a policy failure and significant for explaining why the U.S. does not have national health insurance today. The evidence presented in this paper casts doubt on this interpretation. Compulsory insurance would not have provided gains for wage-workers, and this explains the absence of broad political support for health insurance legislation in this early period.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Department of Economics, University of Calgary in its series Working Papers with number 2008-23.
Date of creation: 01 Apr 2008
Date of revision: 01 Apr 2008
Health Insurance; Savings; Progressive Era;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
- H53 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Welfare Programs
- I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
- I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
- I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
- N3 - Economic History - - Labor and Consumers, Demography, Education, Health, Welfare, Income, Wealth, Religion, and Philanthropy
- N4 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2008-04-15 (All new papers)
- NEP-HEA-2008-04-15 (Health Economics)
- NEP-IAS-2008-04-15 (Insurance Economics)
- NEP-LAB-2008-04-15 (Labour Economics)
- NEP-POL-2008-04-15 (Positive Political Economics)
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