The primary reason for the emergence of these programs in Europe was income stabilization and protection against the wage loss of sickness rather than payment for medical expenses, which came later.
Programs were not universal to start with and were originally conceived as a means of maintaining incomes and buying political allegiance of the workers.
What was the doing during this period of the late 1800’s to 1912?
The government took no actions to subsidize voluntary funds or make sick insurance compulsory; essentially the federal government left matters to the states and states left them to private and voluntary programs.
In a nutshell, the bill limited coverage to the working class and all others that earned less than 00 a year, including dependents.
The services of physicians, nurses, and hospitals were included, as was sick pay, maternity benefits, and a death benefit of fifty dollars to pay for funeral expenses. Costs were to be shared between workers, employers, and the state.
They apparently worried that a government-based insurance system would weaken unions by usurping their role in providing social benefits.
Their central concern was maintaining union strength, which was understandable in a period before collective bargaining was legally sanctioned.
They were a typical progressive group whose mandate was not to abolish capitalism but rather to reform it.
The commercial insurance industry also opposed the reformers’ efforts in the early 20th century.
There was great fear among the working class of what they called a “pauper’s burial,” so the backbone of insurance business was policies for working class families that paid death benefits and covered funeral expenses.
This marked the end of the compulsory national health debate until the 1930’s.
Opposition from doctors, labor, insurance companies, and business contributed to the failure of Progressives to achieve compulsory national health insurance.