As more Americans lose their jobs due to the pandemic, they also lose their health insurance tied to their employment. NPR dives into the origins of employer-based health insurance in the U.S.
MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:
Millions of people have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. And along with the loss of work, many of those same Americans no longer have health insurance. Now, other developed countries like Britain, Germany, Japan, have different systems – a universal system that covers everyone, regardless of whether you’re employed or not.
AILSA CHANG, HOST:
So how did the U.S. end up with an employer-based system instead? Well, our colleagues over at NPR’s history podcast Throughline wanted to find out. Their latest episode tells the story of the battle for health insurance in the U.S. It’s long and complicated, and it could have ended up another way. Today they’re going to share the moment employer-based health insurance was cemented in the U.S. Here are hosts Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST)
RUND ABDELFATAH, BYLINE: In 1953, Dwight D. Eisenhower was sworn in as the country’s 34th president.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
FRED M VINSON: …Preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States so help you God.
PRESIDENT DWIGHT D EISENHOWER: So help me God.
JIM MORONE: The Eisenhower administration comes in – the only Republican administration between 1932 and 1968 – long stretch of Democrats.
ABDELFATAH: This is Jim Morone. He’s a political science professor at Brown University and co-author of the book “The Heart of Power”. Before Eisenhower, several Democratic presidents pushed for federally backed social safety nets, some successful, others not so much. Franklin D. Roosevelt passed Social Security, and after that, Harry Truman tried and failed to bring about a universal health care