Compulsory Health Insurance
Journal of the American Medical Association
that the remedy for inadequate wages, insufficient to meet the expenses of illness, is higher wages. To this we should all subscribe. However, those of us who face the practical questions realize, just as the Massachusetts Commission on Social Insurance has pointed out, that there is no immediate prospect of a sufficient increase in wages to enable the American wage earner to bear the full cost of sickness. Even if a rise of wages should occur, the incidence of sickness is so uncertain that it
... s essentially an insurable proposition. For example, the Social Insurance Commission in California found that from a group of 600 persons, more than one half of the total amount expended for medical care by the group was spent by twenty-one individuals. The uncertainty of sickness makes it desirable to insure one's health, just as persons of means insure their property against the risk of fire. Moreover, we realize that it is unjust to place the full cost of sickness on the worker, whereas industry, because of its long hours, its often dusty, ill ventilated, poorly lighted workrooms, and even the poisons handled, is responsible for much illness. It is only a matter of justice that the employer should he expected to bear this portion of his human repair bill, just as he now bears that portion already covered by the workmen's compensation laws. Legislative action is the only method by which the responsibility of industry for illness can be placed on industry.