The history of healthcare in the US is a long and beaten down path. It is a story of in-fighting between the government and the private sectors to balance the economy and availability of healthcare for everyone. It is a story of progress and regression, a story of repeals and reforms, a story sometimes hidden to the masses. But it is also a story of triumph as many who fought it eventually succeed and bring it to the people who need it most.
President Theodore Roosevelt was the man who spearheaded affordable healthcare for working-class Americans during the 1900s. But only very few know of this story as his other successes became better known to most Americans.
During his formative years, he worked hard to protect the sick and the weak from their employers’ choking grasp. He first saw this during one of his visits to a cigar factory, where he saw many of its employees suffering from various illnesses because of their exposure to raw tobacco. But this wasn’t the moment that President Roosevelt started his crusade for national healthcare.
It started when the Meat Inspection and the Pure Food and Drug Act passed in 1906. From there on, he worked tirelessly to better the health of his fellow Americans. But many from office barred him from doing such a thing. So being the resourceful man he is, President Roosevelt worked on other factors that affected overall public health. This includes his works on reducing pollution, flood control, soil reclamation, and more.
During his time, the American Association of Labor Legislation (AALL) was drafted. The bill’s coverage included the services of physicians, nurses, and hospitals, alongside other benefits. It also covered many of the working class and those who earn less than $1,200. This was the start of formal healthcare insurance in America. His work helped the US reach its greatest points in history and show that Americans from the low socioeconomic level can still live a healthy life despite the circumstances.
In the 1940s and the 1960s that national healthcare became the central importance of the United States. President Truman made strides in making comprehensive universal healthcare ready for Americans. Unlike Roosevelt, Truman worked in making healthcare affordable for everybody, not just the poor and the working class. In the Wagner-Murray-Dingell bill, healthcare was made available to all, and the payroll tax paid its cost.
However, the bill never made it to congress. Many doctors went against it in fear that they will lose their autonomy as professionals. Sadly, President Truman never got to see his bill pass. However, in its place, The Hill-Burton Act was passed in 1946, which gave federal funds to help build hospitals. Additionally, in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law and credited Truman for his efforts.
It was in the 1900s that healthcare once became part of the spotlight. President Clinton’s aptly named the Clinton Health Security Act learned from previous mistakes in enacting a dedicated bill for healthcare. In its central core, the bill was a mix and match between a universal healthcare plan and a private one. However, this made the bill complicated, and it was eventually forgotten.
In its place, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was signed in 1996, which made healthcare more transparent to everyone. The Clinton administration’s last bill was the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). It increased the reach of Medicaid assistance to families with high incomes that forbids them from getting Medicaid.
The 2000’s and Beyond
Under President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed. The structure of the act was not universal, as it utilized the existing private insurance sector. It was an effective way to push the government and the private sector to work together. Because of this, healthcare became a bit more affordable for everyone. It also made healthcare more accessible because of its integration of mobile health apps in people’s lives. A marketplace was also open for those interested in getting themselves some private healthcare insurance.
President Trump worked in dismantling the ACA but to no avail. Eventually, the administration started to break down the act piece by piece and fine-tuned it to fit better the changing circumstances of the economy. The ACA still exists up to this day alongside Medicaid, both are representations of the private and government sectors, respectively.