The Wages of Sickness: The Politics of Health Insurance in Progressive America / Edition 1

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Overview

The Clinton administration's failed health care reform was not the first attempt to establish government-sponsored medical coverage in the United States. From 1915 to 1920, Progressive reformers led a spirited but ultimately unsuccessful crusade for compulsory health insurance in New York State. Beatrix Hoffman argues that this first health insurance campaign was a crucial moment in the creation of the American welfare state and health care system. Its defeat, she says, gave rise to an uneven and inegalitarian system of medical coverage and helped shape the limits of American social policy for the rest of the century.

Hoffman examines each of the major combatants in the battle over compulsory health insurance. While physicians, employers, the insurance industry, and conservative politicians forged a uniquely powerful coalition in opposition to health insurance proposals, she shows, reformers' potential allies within women's organizations and the labor movement were bitterly divided. Against the backdrop of World War I and the Red Scare, opponents of reform denounced government-sponsored health insurance as "un-American" and, in the process, helped fashion a political culture that resists proposals for universal health care and a comprehensive welfare state even today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Nicely written and deeply researched. (Labor History)

[This] book weaves the interests of disparate influences such as employers, labor unions, medical doctors, women's groups, and politicians into a fascinating narrative. (Choice)

Beatrix Hoffman has reframed the formative years of American health policy in a most innovative way. (Alan Derickson, Pennsylvania State University)

Labor History
Nicely written and deeply researched.
Choice
[This] book weaves the interests of disparate influences such as employers, labor unions, medical doctors, women's groups, and politicians into a fascinating narrative.
Alan Derickson
Beatrix Hoffman has reframed the formative years of American health policy in a most innovative way.
Booknews
Hoffman (history, Northern Illinois U., DeKalb) examines progressive reformers' attempts between 1915 and 1920 to create a state-sponsored health insurance plan in New York State and analyzes the reasons that this attempt and subsequent campaigns for health care reform ultimately failed. Hoffman discusses the medical profession, employers, insurance companies, labor unions, and the women's movement and the ways in which each resisted reform. The cultural ideology of the US, including its values of autonomy and responsibility and fear of Bolshevism, also is examined. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
From the Publisher
Nicely written and deeply researched. (Labor History)

[This] book weaves the interests of disparate influences such as employers, labor unions, medical doctors, women's groups, and politicians into a fascinating narrative. (Choice)

Beatrix Hoffman has reframed the formative years of American health policy in a most innovative way. (Alan Derickson, Pennsylvania State University)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807849026
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 1/22/2001
  • Series: Studies in Social Medicine Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.23 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Beatrix Hoffman is assistant professor of history at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Patchwork Protection: The Specter of Sickness and Poverty 6
2 Crafting a Solution to the Sickness Problem: The American Association for Labor Legislation 24
3 A Dose of Prussianism: European Origins and American Identities 45
4 The Worst Insult to the Greatest Profession: Medical Practitioners and Health Insurance 68
5 Moneyed Interests: Employers and Insurance Companies against Compulsory Health Insurance 92
6 The House of Labor Divided 115
7 Insuring Maternity: Women's Politics and the Campaign for Health Insurance 137
8 The Politics of Defeat 163
Epilogue 181
Notes 189
Bibliography 233
Index 247
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