letter to the editor

Healthcare in a democracy

Posted:  Tuesday, August 22, 2017 - 10:00am

Most of us didn’t know that accident insurance began in 1850 by the Massachusetts Franklin Health Assurance Company. By 1866 sixty companies offered accident insurance. That was the beginning concept of providing healthcare coverage in the U.S. In 1890 it was called sickness coverage, and the first employer-sponsored healthcare opened in 1911. Lost wages during illness could put a working person in the poor house. The rise of private insurance occurred side-by-side the rise in public insurance for those who had inadequate protection.  Due to financial constraints what was known as disability insurance soon became today’s modern health insurance program.

In spite of this history and the well known fact that illness strikes without warning, many people seem to believe that it is wrong to help employees get well to keep other employees from getting contagious diseases.  Further they seem to have forgotten how Mom and Dad would be home when sick, but the kids still found food on the table thanks to public and/or private insurance.  We seem to have forgotten that we have provided public disability pensions free to Veterans going as far back as 1776.  In the 19th century this expanded to widows and dependents in veteran families.  After World War II the large veteran population received the most significant set of new health and loan benefits in the 1944 GI Bill.

In spite of the overwhelming acceptance of the new benefits there were critics who thought veterans would take advantage and choose not to work for 52 weeks, which proved to be wrong, as only 5 percent used all 52 weeks of help.  Humans often underestimate the value of healthcare or its need for a well run economic democracy. 

Why are we accepting veteran healthcare for veterans and their families, but are less comfortable with accepting healthcare for all other citizens we rely on to keep the country going during, before, and after war? Democracy works when voters choose their representatives and representatives choose to keep the economy going with a healthcare support system for all.

Jarryl Larson