The Great Depression occurred in 20th century had differing impact on various countries. Originating in the United States around year 1929, there were huge losses in stock trade and the economy plummeted vigorously. The unemployment ratio increased to 25% and people lost money in trade and also bank deposits. Except in Europe where the sickness insurance became fragment of proper health insurance, the United States still struggled to keep the economy at the front. For economic growth it became necessary for the businesses and health care sector to consider insurance plans. President Franklin Roosevelt considered the options of unemployment insurance and old-age benefits. There were meagre monetary resources and insurance benefits were time limited. A committee decided by the president in 1935 to work on the health insurance program as per the voluntary participation of the residents of states.
The committee’s report was kept secret because it led to inconsistency and vagueness of social security bill which was on priority list of the president. Health insurance became an important issue in 1939 but due to elections, the bill remained unavailable. The health report by Sen. Claude Pepper’s Committee on Wartime Health and Education based on the impacts of the World War II showed that young American men and women lost military as a career due to poor health. The Pepper’s panel forwarded the issue of national health insurance and a bill is passed for lifetime medical care and hospital care coverage for 30 days including families. Emergency care coverage was still in backlog with bureaucrats playing major role in recommendation and clearance of essential medical services.
Blue Cross and Pre-Paid Plans
Laidback political efforts of 1920s, ‘30s and ‘40s and ongoing economic depression put great concerns regarding affordable health care to the forefront. Due to progressivism era, the businesses supported building of hospitals and social welfare organizations however; the services were widely reduced to free medical care due to incapacity of the patients or the families to pay for the expenses. Private institutions came up with short-term insurance plans based on small nominal fees in exchange of wide medical services. Baylor Hospital in Dallas supported 20 days of insurance coverage to schoolteachers who paid only 50 cents a month. It became successful with three quarters of teachers signing up for the insurance plan. The Baylor model was later adopted by many hospitals across the United States. Baylor advertised their insurance plans at various places representing with the blue cross symbol. Blue cross plans were endorsed by over 2.8 million people by 1938 via their employees or social and voluntary organizations.
Many other organizations came up with their respective prepaid medical plans. In 1929, two physicians started private insurance cooperation by providing medical coverage to around 2,000 employees of the Los Angeles Department of Water Power. Later their clinic supported more than 12,000 workers and their dependents. The Kaiser Permanente system took on contract surgeon Stanley Garfield and his partners to help provide prepaid insurance to 5,000 workers in the Mohave Desert. Later they graduated to the group prepayment insurance policy for the workers on the Grand Coulee Dam project in Washington. In 1942, similar health plans were projected for workers and their families at Kaiser-run shipyards in the San Francisco Bay area and Kaiser steel mill in Southern California. Public was later introduced to the health plan via affordable memberships in 1945.