How long will universal health coverage take?

Gerald Kominski • MAY 13, 2014

Gerald Kominski of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research recounts the long history of the movement to enact universal health insurance in America. Kominski begins with the first workers' compensation legislation enacted by the state of Wisconsin in 1911. By 1920, he explains, 36 states had adopted similar measures, many of which included general workers' benefits. In the 1930s, national health insurance was initially part of the Social Security vision, but later dropped for political reasons. In the 1960s, Medicare and Medicaid were developed, initially for the elderly and poor, who Kominski says were left out of the private employment-based insurance picture. The Affordable Care Act of 2010, he says, took the next major step toward universal health insurance. Kominski says that America remains divided over such social programs, and predicts that based on the history of the movement, it will take one more generation of work in health policy for universal health coverage to be implemented fully in the United States.

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