100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Great Britain Approves Affordable Healthcare

Germany had provided compulsory national insurance against sickness from 1884. After visiting Germany in 1908, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George said in his 1909Budget Speech, that the United Kingdom should aim to be “putting ourselves in this field on a level with Germany; We should not emulate them only in armaments.” The Liberal government led by Herbert Asquith proposed the 1911 National Insurance Act, an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom often regarded as one of the foundations of modern social welfare in the United Kingdom and forms part of the wider social welfare reforms of the Liberal Government in power since 1906.

This measure gave the British working classes the first contributory system of insurance against illness and unemployment. Workers would contribute a small part of their pay to insurance that would enable them to take sick leave and be paid for time off. Workers also gained access to free treatment for tuberculosis and the sick were eligible for treatment by a panel doctor. The National Insurance Act also provided for a time-limited unemployment benefit. In December 1911 the National Insurance Act received royal assent. This is a victory for the Liberal government and the people of the United Kingdom. It was opposed by Conservatives who thought that it was not for taxpayers to pay for such benefits, trade unions who operated their own insurance schemes and “friendly societies” were also opposed.

On July 15, 1912 the National Health Insurance Act took effect in the Great Britain. The original Act provided sickness, disability and maternity benefits and free treatment for tuberculosis for all insured workers, but not for their dependents.

Lloyd George depicted as the martyr St. Sebastian under attack for his National Insurance Act

 

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