Profile America -- Monday, April 29th. Health insurance and its affordability has been a topic of political contention mostly in the past two decades, 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 -- and not 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. For working employees, coverage declined from 76 percent in 1997 to 70.2 percent in 2010. Profile America is in its 16th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sources: Kane's Famous First Facts, 4539
U.S. Census Bureau, Facts for Features, CB13-35