Was there really a healthcare mandate over 200 years ago?

A liberal friend of mine sent me this article from Forbes which attempts to argue that “Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance -In 1798″

From the article:

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.

There’s a few problems with comparing this 2 page law with the 2,000 monstrosity that is Obamacare. Here’s a short list:

  • Not everyone was employed AS a seamen, so off the bat this bill was worlds away from the mandate levied by Obamacare on every US citizen just for breathing.
  • The mandate was applied per ship, not per sailor. The only things recorded were the counts of seamen aboard. The fine of $100 was to be levied against the ship, not the individual crew members. This was really more of a payroll tax than anything else.
  • The seamen had the free choice of which port to go to, meaning there was interstate competition among ports with regard to this service.
  • The care was not open-ended and not lifetime. When your money ran out, you were kicked out. Oh, and pre-existing condition were not treated. This bill was specifically designed to alleviate the arduous effects of long-term sea voyage for the purpose of international trade. It was effectively an insurance plan for sailors, not much different than seafaring insurance plans that were already in place at the time to make intercontinental commerce less of a financially risky endeavor.
  • Doctors were not mandated to work at ports. In fact, this plan says nothing about the coverage provided. Its amazing to think that anyone would compare this with Obamacare when the medical care provided is not listed. The only thing the bill does stipulate with regard to the service is how the overseers of the port hospitals will be appointed by the president.
  • The money collected never left the port it was collected in. That’s what they used to call “states’ rights”.
  • The wording of the bill focuses on accounting. It actually expects there to be a surplus left over!

This bill was also far from uncontested as many posts that want to use this as ammunition to support Obamacare seem to imply.

For an extended review of this topic, I highly recommend this blog post at Wandering Reveleries.

Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. -John Adams

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One Response to Was there really a healthcare mandate over 200 years ago?

  1. Pingback: The Founding Fathers loved health care mandates - CycloneFanatic

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