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JAMA Revisited
May 3, 2016

Cooperation in Social Insurance Investigation

JAMA. 2016;315(17):1909. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.17084

During the last ten years, The Journal has frequently commented on the development of social insurance in Germany, England, Denmark, Norway and Sweden and other European countries. No other social movement in modern economic development is so pregnant with benefit to the public. The opinion has been expressed repeatedly that the problems involved in the conservation of the health and physical efficiency of laboring men and women in this country, and those in moderate circumstances must, sooner or later, become a vital issue. The Journal has emphasized that in each of the countries mentioned, members of the medical profession, although directly and vitally concerned in the administration of any social insurance plan, had without exception awakened too late to the importance of the question. As a result of their own lethargy and inactivity, they took no effective part in molding the legislation, and were forced to accept what was given them by the legislators and economists rather than to claim that to which they were justly entitled. In England, the country which most recently has adopted a general social insurance plan, Lloyd George, in framing his bill, consulted workmen, employees, employers, officers of labor unions, representatives of the “friendly societies,” economists, sociologists and legislators, but until the bill was practically ready for presentation in the House of Commons, it apparently did not occur to any one to consult representatives of the British Medical Association, although the assistance and cooperation of physicians were absolutely indispensable to the successful operation of the law. Coming into the discussion late in the day and after many of the essential principles involved had been determined, the representatives of the British Medical profession were able to secure with extreme difficulty only a part of the concessions which they demanded. As The Journal has repeatedly pointed out, experience in other countries has clearly demonstrated that in the course of a comparatively short time the question of social insurance will become an important issue in this country. Physicians in the United States should profit by the experience of our professional brethren abroad and interest themselves in this question while it is still in a formative period.

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