Profile America — Tuesday, April 29th. Health insurance and its affordability has been a topic of political contention mostly in the past two decades, but the social need was recognized much earlier. On this date in 1942, Rhode Island became the first state to set up a health or temporary disability insurance program for its working citizens unemployed because of sickness. The covered workers — not the employers — funded the program with a 1 percent tax on wages of less than $3,000 a year. Today, health insurance is largely an employer provided or subsidized benefit, though that is under some stress. In 2012, about 171 million people, or nearly 55 percent of all health insurance policies, were covered by an employment-based plan. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.
Sources: Kane's Famous First Facts, 4539