Why the US rejected universal healthcare

Witness History

By BBC World Service

Why the US rejected universal healthcare

Friday, 11 September

The USA is the only rich democracy not to provide universal healthcare. After WW2 US President Harry Truman was horrified that only a fifth of all Americans could afford proper healthcare. Most middle class Americans had no private health insurance and many found medical fees unaffordable. He calculated that more than 300,000 people died every year because they couldn't pay for proper treatment. In 1945 he tried to persuade Congress to push through legislation for an insurance programme meaning all workers would pay for their healthcare through a monthly fee or tax. But the American Medical Association - representing doctors - employed a public relations firm to lobby against the move. Claire Bowes has been listening to archive material of Harry Truman and speaking to Jonathan Oberlander a Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Photo: President Harry Truman in 1947 (courtesy of US National Archives) Archive material: courtesy of the Harry S Truman Library
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