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Single-Payer Or Bust

By Michelle Lugalia-Hollon, Contributing Editor, Global Health

Universal government-funded health insurance goes as far back in history as 1883. Developed countries such as Germany, Sweden, Britain and Norway began providing some form of universal health insurance to citizens as early as the 19th century. According to Physicians for a National Health Plan, a single issue organization advocating for a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program, the main reason that these health insurance programs were established was to protect citizens against wage loss during sickness and to win their political favor. Like today, these programs were highly politicized, but back then it was for very different reasons. Even though universal health care is considered a left-wing ideal today, in the 19th century, the conservative British and German working class heavily supported these programs to counter the growth of socialist and labor parties.

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