Health Reform Public Health

U.S. Began Providing Socialized Health Care in 1798

While walking around in San Francisco’s Presidio, I noticed a refurbished building which happened to be a former Public Health Service Hospital.  After investigating its origins, I dug up the following information regarding one of the United States’ first efforts to provide an individual health insurance mandate:

In July of 1798, Congress passed – and President John Adams signed – “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance…First, it created the Marine Hospital Service, a series of hospitals built and operated by the federal government to treat injured and ailing privately employed sailors. This government provided healthcare service was to be paid for by a mandatory tax on the maritime sailors (a little more than 1% of a sailor’s wages), the same to be withheld from a sailor’s pay and turned over to the government by the ship’s owner. The payment of this tax for health care was not optional. If a sailor wanted to work, he had to pay up.


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