Henry J. Kaiser and the New Economics of Medical Care

posted on March 13, 2018

Lincoln Cushing
Heritage writer


Funding for hospital construction may seem like a dry subject.  But it’s vital if you live in a community that doesn’t have adequate facilities for health care.  And that was the situation after the Great Depression and World War II, when hospital construction virtually stopped. In this stirring speech before the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. in 1954, Henry J. Kaiser appealed to the information influencers to promote passage of legislation for building more hospitals. In it, he uttered this bold challenge:

If we can build ships, and planes, and tanks, and guns, and bullets to protect our national security, can we not build hospitals, and clinics to protect the lives of our people?

This podcast explores many of the same themes as this one by Kaiser Permanente’s founding physician, Sidney Garfield, MD: the challenges of providing affordable, quality health care to a population that was new to the concept of a health plan. In this speech, Henry Kaiser artfully engages his audience by pointing out the economic similarities between prepaid health care and print journalism:

Your services are paid for monthly by the subscribers of the thousands of newspapers all over the country.  You offer comprehensive news coverage on a monthly payment basis. We do have that in common.

Health care for the people, a challenge in 1954 as it is today.


Short link to this blog and podcast: http://k-p.li/2FyXXk1

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

We cannot accept comments from users under the age of 13. Please do not include any medical, personal or confidential information in your comment. Conversation is strongly encouraged; however, Kaiser Permanente reserves the right to moderate comments on this blog as necessary to prevent medical, personal and confidential information from being posted on this site. In addition, Kaiser Permanente will remove all spam, personal attacks, profanity, and off topic commentary. Finally, we reserve the right to change the posting guidelines at any time, at our sole discretion.