During the Progressive Era, President Theodore Roosevelt was in power and although he supported health insurance because he believed that no country could be strong whose people were sick and poor, most of the initiative for reform took place outside of government.

Roosevelt’s successors were mostly conservative leaders, who postponed for about twenty years the kind of presidential leadership that might have involved the national government more extensively in the management of social welfare.

In 1914, reformers sought to involve physicians in formulating this bill and the American Medical Association (AMA) actually supported the leadership denied it had ever favored the measure.

This marked the end of the compulsory national health debate until the 1930’s.

Opposition from doctors, labor, insurance companies, and business contributed to the failure of Progressives to achieve compulsory national health insurance.

In 1906, the American Association of Labor Legislation (AALL) finally led the campaign for health insurance.

They were a typical progressive group whose mandate was not to abolish capitalism but rather to reform it.

They apparently worried that a government-based insurance system would weaken unions by usurping their role in providing social benefits.

Their central concern was maintaining union strength, which was understandable in a period before collective bargaining was legally sanctioned.

Other European countries, including Sweden in 1891, Denmark in 1892, France in 1910, and Switzerland in 1912, subsidized the mutual benefit societies that workers formed among themselves.

So for a very long time, other countries have had some form of universal health care or at least the beginnings of it.

The primary reason for the emergence of these programs in Europe was income stabilization and protection against the wage loss of sickness rather than payment for medical expenses, which came later.