Readings in Social Security

By William Haber; Wilbur J. Cohen | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI
MEDICAL CARE AND HEALTH
INSURANCE

"To recommend that our own country again experiment with discredited methods of voluntary insurance is simply to ignore all that has been learned by costly experience in many other countries as well as in our own.... if we must adopt in this country either of the methods tried out in Europe, the sensible and logical plan would be to adopt the method to which European countries have come through experience, that is, a compulsory plan under governmental control.... The objections to compulsory health insurance are almost as compelling to this minority group as are those to voluntary insurance."

Minority Report Number One in MEDICAL CARE FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, The Final Report of the Committee on the Costs of Medical Care, Chicago, 1932, pp. 164-5.

"The time is now ripe for another great advance, ... once the whole process of insurance becomes unified, compulsory and national.... 'bringing the magic of averages to the rescue of the millions,' ... for all classes, for all purposes, from the cradle to the grave."

Winston Churchill, Radio Broadcast, MARCH 21, 1943.


INTRODUCTION

INSURANCE AGAINST medical costs was one of the earliest forms of social insurance established in foreign countries, and today, it is undoubtedly the most prevalent form of social insurance in operation in the world. Yet, of the major industrial countries of the world, only the United States and Canada do not have a system of compulsory health insurance or nation‐ wide comprehensive public medical care.

Governmental responsibility for medical care is not, however, new in the United States. The health functions of local and state governments go back to the very beginning of the

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