That mentality required medical care to be provided by “mutual aid societies” who provided benefits for members. In the United States, these mutual aid societies were called “fraternal aid societies” which emerged in the colonies and were the norm until the mid-20th century. The virtues of thrift and self-reliance provided the backbone, enabling the societies to establish orphanages, hospitals, homes, and schools. Many offered life insurance programs and some provided medical benefits to their members.
Everything changed duringthe first half of the 20th century, especially the values of thrift and self-reliance. According to Greg Scandlen, the Progressive Movement of the early 20th century gave rise in the United States to new ideas of the proper role of government. In particular, progressives viewed the government not the individual, as the answer for solving all of society's problems. Scandlen notes:
The idea that common workmen could provide for their own needs
was offensive to those who thought only an educated elite could order
the affairs of society."
What that change in idea implied is that the values of mutual aid and self-help were "replaced with newer virtues of charity and service."
But, that’s not all. New laws and social policies conspired to speed the decline of the fraternal aid societies:
- They were gradually replaced by new workers' compensation laws and federal regulators who began regulating their life insurance benefits.
- As employer-sponsored insurance grew as a result of preferential tax treatment and became more normative, fraternal aid society members found themselves at a financial disadvantage.
- As the government began offering increased welfare benefits and continuously increased those over the decades, the services provided by fraternal aid societies became increasingly irrelevant.
Where has all of this progressivism led? Not only to a welfare system that has unfunded liabilities which the government cannot meet but also cannot provide those services in a timely, efficient, and effective way.
As the reality of our inability to keep these promises hits in the next few
decades, the old models of neighbors helping neighbors may come back
Certainly not if this current regime of progressives has their way.
Let the discussion begin…
To read Greg Scandlen’s articles, click on the following links:
"Safe Haven: How Mutual Aid Can Protect Families in Times of Trouble."
"How We Once Provided Medical Benefits.”