The Issue of Compulsory Health Insurance: A Study Prepared at the Request of Senator H. Alexander Smith, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare

The Issue of Compulsory Health Insurance: A Study Prepared at the Request of Senator H. Alexander Smith, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare

The Issue of Compulsory Health Insurance: A Study Prepared at the Request of Senator H. Alexander Smith, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare

The Issue of Compulsory Health Insurance: A Study Prepared at the Request of Senator H. Alexander Smith, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Health of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare

Excerpt

The Brookings Institution frequently receives requests from congressional committees for memoranda or consultations on economic and administrative problems with which such committees are concerned. The Institution responds to such requests, provided they are bipartisan in character, to the extent that available resources and competent personnel permit. The present study on the issue of compulsory health insurance was undertaken in response to the invitation of Senator H. Alexander Smith, chairman of the subcommittee on Health of the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, which has before it many bills on this important subject.

The request was made in May 1947, and if the results were to be of service to the Committee, they had to be available early in 1948. Limitations of time and resources necessarily restricted somewhat the scope of the analysis and the amount of original research. Emphasis was placed upon appraising all the available evidence with a view to clarifying the primary issues involved in the provision of more adequate medical care.

Two major proposals have been advanced for national government participation in the provision of medical care for the individual. One provides for federal grants-in-aid to the states to assure adequate medical care for the indigent and leaves to individuals having capacity to pay freedom to make their own provision for medical care. It anticipates further development of the voluntary devices for insurance or prepayment of medical costs which have grown so rapidly in recent years. It leaves individual states free to experiment with compulsory insurance. The second proposal is for the establishment of a compulsory health insurance system by the national government with a large measure of federal regulation and control of agencies and practitioners providing medical care. The study is confined to the economic, social, and administrative issues involved in these two broad plans and does not go into discussion of strictly medical practices.

The conclusions and recommendations have been furnished the Senate Committee. Because of the wide public interest in the subject of compulsory health insurance, it has been decided to make the full study available in printed form.

A word should perhaps be said here about the experience of the authors: Dr. Lewis Meriam, vice-president of the Brookings Institution . . .

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