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Contract of Personal Accident and Health Insurance
14
CONTRACT OF PERSONAL ACCIDENT AND HEALTH INSURANCE
Formative Stage of the Health Policy
The past career of the health policy is more brief and less
checkered. From its inception it was in the hands of men of
experience, qualified as underwriters and actuated by a desire to
render service. Under their guidance accident insurance had
been elevated to a plane of dignity and quality; strong, ably
officered and well managed life and casualty companies had
become its leaders; the accident policy had become a contract
proudly advertised as containing "no exceptions"; the business
was growing apace in volume, prestige and public favor and its
extension into the field of health insurance was a natural and
logical step. It was again a new field, however. Knowledge of
costs was lacking, applicability of experience in other countries
was doubtful and, even with the training, courage and vision
acquired in the closely kindred line of accident insurance, cau-
tious experimentation was deemed the better part of valor.
Prior to 1897 such health insurance as had been attempted had
been issued by mutual benefit associations, generally short lived
and of dubious responsibility, operating under varying and often
peculiar conditions. Their experience was neither available nor
suitable as a standard for commercial operations. These were
to be another pioneer undertaking.
The first offering by a responsible, old-line company was in the
form of a supplement to the accident policy and it insured only
against eight or ten diseases specifically named. Later the list
was extended to cover seventeen, twenty, twenty-four and more
diseases. But always there was careful selection of diseases to
be covered, a few of common occurrence being included among a
much greater number of rarest incidence, of non-disabling nature,
some children's diseases, some unknown in this country, some
trifling blemishes dressed up in imposing Latin designations and
running the gamut from Asiatic cholera to a pimple on the ear.
This method of gaining experience soon proved both unsatisfac-
tory and illusory. The public did not understand medical Latin,
complained of being misled into believing health insurance in-
sured against sickness, only too often to find, when sick, that "the
policy did not cover." Efforts to "beat the game" followed and,
with the cooperation of sympathetic doctors, diagnoses came to
be influenced by the necessities of the list contained in the policy
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