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he first state-level medical history society to have a website.  Our goal is to promote interest, research, and writing in medical history, and we are dedicated to the discussion and enjoyment of the history of medicine and allied fields.

MHSNJ Saffron Lecture: Jonathan Engel, "The Genesis of Private Health Insurance in the United States"

  • Tuesday, May 18, 2021
  • 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Online, Zoom

Registration is closed

The Medical History Society of New Jersey is pleased to announce its next online event, the 42nd Annual Morris Saffron Lecture. On Tuesday, May 18, at 7:00 pm via Zoom, Jonathan Engel, Ph.D., will present “The Genesis of Private Health Insurance in the United States.” 

The United States uses a network of competing, private, for-profit health insurance firms as the backbone of its healthcare finance apparatus. How did this system come into being, and how did it displace earlier proposals for more government-run models of healthcare finance? 

This presentation will discuss earlier ideas for healthcare finance, including an AMA-backed state health insurance proposal from 1916, a national health insurance proposal in the Social Security Act of 1935, early Blue Cross plans (including from Essex County, New Jersey), the risk-adjusted plans of the 1970s and 1980s, and the history of Medicare. 

Jonathan Engel is Professor of Public Affairs at the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College (CUNY). He has also taught at Seton Hall University, the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, and the School of Public Health at the University of Massachusetts. Previously, he was staff historian to the President’s Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments. 

Among his books on the historical evolution of U.S. health and social welfare policy are Doctors and Reformers: Discussion and Debate on Health Policy, 1925-1950 (2002); Poor People’s Medicine: Medicaid and U.S. Charity Care Since 1965 (2006); and Unaffordable: American Healthcare From Johnson to Trump (2018). 

This program is free, and all are welcome! Register at for the Zoom link! Join us!


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