The Struggle over Employee Benefits: The Role of Labor in Influencing Modern Health Policy

After organized labor failed to institute national health insurance in the mid-twentieth century, its influence on health care policy diminished even further. This article proposes an alternative interpretation of the development of health care policy in the United States, by examining the association of health policy with the relationships between employers and employees. The social welfare and health insurance systems that resulted were a direct outcome of the pressures brought by organized and unorganized labor movements. The greater dependency created by industrial and demographic changes, conflicts between labor and capital over the political meaning of disease and accidents, and attempts by the political system to mitigate the impending social crisis all helped determine new health policy options.

Author(s): David Rosner; Gerald Markowitz

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Volume 81, Issue 1 (pages 45–73)
DOI: 10.1111/1468-0009.00038
Published in 2003