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Health Insurance: The History, Struggle, and Significance!

God forbid, should we fall sick, we all have the hospitals to treat us. And the health insurance comes to our rescue when we struggle to pay the health care bills. However, did you know that Americans did not have the privilege of government-sponsored health insurance for a long time? And yes, we call it a privilege because the right to health care and subsidized health insurance coverage came only after a long battle.

Today, we take a look back at the history and the struggle that went into getting the common man access to health insurance. We explore the various timelines and developments behind the events that shaped health insurance as we know it today.

The Healthcare Journey

Yes, the focus on healthcare and medicine began with the Civil War and it grew to a stage where the nation and the government began focusing on the healthcare system. However, had it not been for the capitalistic approach of the nation, experts suggest that the American healthcare system would be way better than that of Canada, the United Kingdom, and France. However, over the past century, the healthcare system has developed into something everyone loves and hates at the same time.

The history of medicine and organized healthcare goes back to a time that is a little before the civil war. And the story began in the 1700s. When the first generation of explorers or colonists came to the US they found the healthcare system to be very rudimentary. With a high mortality rate and poor living conditions, it was a tough journey until the establishment of the first hospital. Soon, the process of setting up more hospitals and making healthcare accessible began with the army officers building hospitals in every city during the Civil War.

However, it was only in 1849 that the American Medical Association was founded and by the end of that century, it had more than half the physicians registered on the forum.

The Birth of Organized Healthcare

With the turn of the century and Theodore Roosevelt rising to power, American healthcare experienced a revolution too. And historians believe that the President’s staunch belief in providing quality healthcare only made this possible. In fact, it was his initiative that led to organizations having to provide their employees with a health insurance cover.

As the industrial revolution grew popular the workers were exposed to dangerous work environments and were more prone to injuries and accidents. American Association of Labor Legislation (AALL) drafted the legislation and aimed at targeting the working-class laborers and low-income groups. Providing quality and affordable healthcare to all the employees was crucial as the labor force included young children too. Along with the Industrial Revolution and the birth of Labor Unions, the nation saw a rise in the popularity of organized healthcare.

The World War and The Great Depression

When the World War broke the Congress passed the War Risk Insurance Act, which ensured that the military servicemen were covered in case of an injury or death. This followed even after World War I came to an end and the Great Depression took a toll. The 32nd President of The United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt came up with a bill that provides social security to all the citizens under the Social Security Act of 1935.

Around the same time, leading industrialist Henry Kaiser along with Dr. Sidney Garfield came up with a way to provide all the 6,500 employees working for him, with healthcare coverage. This soon started gaining popularity.

However, it was during World War II that the company or employer-sponsored healthcare became a popular concept. The Stabilization Act of 1942 was bought into effect to meet inflation. Henry Kaiser and Dr. Sidney Garfield collaborated together again, and this time to provide healthcare coverage to over 30,000 employees who were working from remote areas of the country. And this pre-paid healthcare arrangement is what gave birth to the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan. While this was way back in the 1940s, this healthcare plan is still popular and is managed by the PPOs and the HMOs.

The Decades After The War

The decades that followed after the war saw a rapid increase in the healthcare plans, popularity of the health insurance for all, and the affordability of healthcare. Right from the push for National Health Insurance, Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973, and the Social Security Amendment Act, all came into practice. This was soon followed by an increase in the number of people covered under COBRA, HIPPA, Medicaid, and NHE. The Clinton government brought the Children’s Health Insurance Program which went on to extend the coverage to uninsured children under the age of 19 years.

When Barack Obama came to power as the 44th President of the United States, he bought The Affordable Care Act and Pre-existing Conditions. He signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), also popular as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or ObamaCare made healthcare affordable to every citizen. So, the next time you use the healthcare, remember the history and the effort of all the people who worked hard to get you here!

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