The Long Road to Medicare

My latest post from The New York Academy of Medicine

Books, Health and History

By Danielle Aloia, Special Projects Librarian

July 30 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Medicare. But getting to the signing of the Social Security Amendment of 1965, which created Medicare, was a long road.

In the 1910s and 1920s, numerous reports, recommendations, and programs advocated the development of a national health system, especially after the United Kingdom adopted National Health Insurance in 1911. Due to opposition from the American Medical Association (AMA), labor unions, and insurance companies these recommendations were never fully accepted. However, there was consensus that something needed to do be done to protect the poor from the burden of healthcare costs.

As the charts below show, in 1929 citizens spent over three billion dollars on health care. The next chart shows where that money was spent. As noted by William Foster, chairman of the Committee on Public Health of the National Advisory Council on…

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